As I’ve mentioned a number of times recently, I’m currently working on my Master’s Degree Thesis Project for my MA in Writing at Rowan University. My project is one of the sequels to Manifestation, which will eventually be published some time after my graduation. I’m working on the third draft, making revisions based on feedback from my professor, my classmates, and a second professor who serves the role of “project reader” (each student gets individual guidance and advice from a different project reader, in addition to our main professor who works with all of us). The advice I’ve gotten, across the board, is extremely helpful and insightful.
It’s also really difficult to work with, at times.
See, sometimes you can get a really good piece of advice, say to yourself, “Hmm, this is a good point, I should fix this,” and then have NO idea how to actually fix the problem at hand. For example, I’ve recently received some advice that my WIP has some issues with pacing, and that the story needs to keep moving forward, instead of being slowed down. This makes a lot of sense, but it leaves me a bit uncertain how to proceed. It’s likely that I’ll need to simply cut some scenes that don’t support the overall narrative, but it can be hard to make an objective decision about which scenes need to go. Or I might need to rearrange some chapters to reorder how events play out, so that there aren’t extended slow-moving sections. But that can also be difficult, since it requires an analysis of the overall structure of the story, rather than looking at any scene individually.
Usually, I find I need to take situations like this one piece at a time. I find it more productive to look through the feedback I’ve received and pick-and-choose what I’m going to address right away versus what I’m going to deal with later. It’s kind of like having a To Do list and tackling the easiest tasks on it first, in order to shorten the list. I find a shorter list far less daunting, and at least I can feel like I’m making progress. This works far better for me than staying jammed on a single issue and never moving forward.
It also allows me more time to figure out what to do. When I’m working on one issue, another will be in the back of my mind, simmering. By the time I’m ready to address it, I’ll have had time to figure out some new approaches. Sometimes that makes it a lot easier to come to a final decision. Or sometimes the answer will come to me unexpectedly, usually while I’m in the shower. In any case, setting it aside until I’m ready seems to work far better than dwelling on it.
It can also be helpful to write a blog post about it, because that lets me get my ideas out and keeps me from dwelling on them. Which brings us to where we are now.
Hopefully, before the end of the weekend, I’ll be able to make some serious progress. If not, I’ll just have to keep muddling through it until things start to click. Wish me luck.
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