Suffering From “Revision Fatigue?” Hang On, There’s Hope

Uh-oh, our headline sounds like a psoriasis cream ad, doesn’t it? The original writer said it better:

Revision Fatigue – by Jennifer R. Hubbard (writerjenn on

There comes a point in the writing of every book where I become sick of the book.

Actually, that’s a lie. There’s usually more than one such point per book, and they usually come near the end of a round of revisions. Come to think of it, it happened with my short stories, too. That’s how I knew I was done: when I could think of nothing else to do to the story, and I had been through every word of it so many times that the words were in danger of stale meaninglessness.

The mystery of writing is that you can bring a project to this point, be convinced the story is done through and through, backwards and forwards and inside out. Then you pick it up two months later and see you have used the same word twice in one sentence. And the marvel is that you read that sentence forty million times without ever noticing!

So revision fatigue doesn’t necessarily mean the story is perfect. But it usually means that it’s as good as I can make it for now.

Before I understood how deep revision could go, I didn’t know about revision fatigue. Nobody warned me. I probably wouldn’t have believed them. Writing was a joy, tra la, a magical world in my head–who sez it can be drudgery? Turns out that bringing the magical world onto a page that someone else can stand to read takes effort, and more than one try. More than five tries. More than fifty tries.

The good news is that revision fatigue wears off. Between revisions, it ebbs, until it’s possible to face the next round, or the finished version, with fresh eyes and renewed love.

The value of distancing yourself from your work can’t be overstated. We’re mighty glad we found this and even happier to pass it along.