Three steps forward, two steps back

That’s how revision feels. I’m making progress, I’m making progress … no, wait. Damn.

I’ve been writing and writing and writing, but I’ve also been deleting, deleting, deleting, so the novel’s wordcount has hardly shifted. It’s gone up by about 2,500 words, whereas I could swear I’ve written 10,000 new ones.

It means I’ve had to redefine what progress looks like. My little progress bar over on the side is measuring scenes revised rather than wordcount, so I can see I actually am moving forward, despite how it feels. But I’m so used to wordcount as a measure of progress that the feeling of running on the spot is very hard to shake.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch had an interesting article about how the markers of success in the new world of self-publishing have shifted, but really, “shifting the goalposts” is a pretty universal problem.

Like when you leave fulltime work for fulltime mothering instead. You no longer measure your worth in successful campaigns, reports written, satisfied clients, or whatever business-related units you’re used to. Nobody gives you a promotion or a pay rise when your baby starts solids, or begins sleeping through the night. You have to find new ways of defining a good day or a bad day.

Or when you leave school. Or retire. Or change careers, or relationships. Take up a new sport or hobby. Even find new friends. Situations are always changing, and we have to adjust. No use complaining “but I’ve always done it this way”.

And yet, we are creatures of habit. How many times have I checked my wordcount after adding a whole new section, and felt disappointed that it’s hardly gone up because of all the other words I’ve ripped out? I can tell myself wordcount doesn’t matter till I’m blue in the face; my inner child is too busy throwing tantrums in the corner to listen.

In short: editing painful, progress slow. Guess I’ll just have to send my inner child to the naughty corner and get on with it.

Wish me luck!
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