Since I’m currently finalizing my manuscript, I figure now is the right time to discuss all the steps I went through to get there.
First, I wrote my first draft, skipping all those nitpicky details like “planning” or “writing an outline.” Surprisingly enough, that wasn’t as bad an idea as it seems. It probably cost me some efficiency, but on the other hand getting that first draft done was probably more important than getting it right. I needed to know that I could bring the project at least that far before running out of motivation.
Once I had that first draft done, however, it was time to make it good. So I grabbed my red pen, printed out the whole manuscript, and got to work. That first revision covered everything, from fixing plot holes to improving my characterization (and, of course, correcting all those inevitable typos and grammar issues.) In the process, I added about 20,000 words to the manuscript, bringing it up to a publishable size.
I also realized how much my writing had improved in the relatively small interval between starting my prologue and completing my epilogue. So I actually ended up my first revision with even greater motivation than ever before.
While I was revising, I was also sending my completed chapters to a pair of first readers. Inevitably, they caught mistakes I missed, but their input was also valuable for additional plot doctoring and characterization editing.
Which brings me up to now. As I wait for the final comments from the second of my first readers, I’ve started Yet Another Revision. This time, I put my book onto my Kindle, just to look at it from another perspective. And… it was a good idea. I still see small stuff I want to fix, some minor issues and weaker sections. It’s a bit frustrating to see how imperfect the book is… but on the other hand, I can see how quickly I’m improving my writing skills.
And on the plus side, I think that once I’m done with that final revision, the book will absolutely be of publishable quality. So it’s not as demotivating as “third revision” might imply.
Moral of the story: don’t underestimate the need for revising your work, but also don’t underestimate the benefits of doing so. I’ve gotten so much better at writing just by reviewing my work that even if Book 1 fails to ever see the light of day, I know that my next project will get closer to that goal.