#SaystheEditor Regroup, Revise, Refocus

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At the start of the summer, I decided that I was going to have a cardio summer at the Hoity Toity Health Club. It sounded like great fun: try to bike 300 miles and either walk or elliptical for 30. I had from the first day of summer vacation until the last to accomplish this.

And, me being me, the idea was really to see how many miles over 300 and 30 I could get.

But about halfway through the summer vacation, I realized something: while the challenge was a great way to motivate me to get myself back into the gym on a routine basis — the underlying reason for this silliness — I was neglecting something extremely important: strength training. And it was starting to show. Bones were beginning to dislocate, and I was having pain.

It was, of course, time to regroup, refocus, and yes, throw the challenge out the window.

I don’t like to say I failed so much as I came to realize I had to pursue a better path. I had to adjust to the circumstances and improve the situation.

So I did. No big deal. Fewer miles got walked and pedaled. Weights began to be lifted. I haven’t fully recovered my strength, but I’ve stopped the worst of the carnage.

Likewise, when we’re writing, sometimes, we have to throw the plan out the window and regroup. Yes, we may have to do it on the fly. Sometimes, we may get to the end of our first draft and look up and think, “Well, this ending doesn’t line up with the beginning.” We may have to work up a set of scene cards and take a good, hard look at the project from that viewpoint. Outlines may meet the recycle bin.

It’s not always as easy as waking up to realize that while you slept, you have a new dislocation that’s making it feel like someone sunk a knife into your butt and the pain’s radiating down your leg.

But sometimes, it is.

Doesn’t matter, though. What matters is that you can take that deep breath and do what’s best for your book. Yes, you may have spent hours or days or weeks on your outline, only to have to abandon it and fly by the seat of your pants. Maybe you realize that you began flying by the seat of your pants and deviated from the outline, and now you need to go back.

Doesn’t matter.

What matters is having the smarts and the guts and the dedication to regroup and realign. To delete pretty writing or scenes that make you laugh or cry.

Keep the focus on telling the best story you possibly can, and be ruthless in your pursuit of that goal. What isn’t important here is where you planned to end the journey. It’s what you learn about yourself, about your book, along the way.

I promise your book will be better for it. And just maybe, so will you.

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