Seeing Your Shadow: Letting Go During Revision

Yesterday was Groundhog Day!

Punxsutawney Phil, photo courtesy of Allessandro M, Flickr

And of course, Punxsutawney Phil quickly let us know that winter was here to stay. Phil’s an expert at predictions based on one simple thing: seeing his shadow. Apparently, he’s scared of the blackish-gray blob that appears on the snow. When he sees it, he scurries back to his burrow as fast as his short, chubby legs can carry him. But I think Phil is onto something here. Something we writers can learn from.

How often do you see your shadow when revising? The familiar black blob that creeps over your computer screen and won’t let you get rid of all the unnecessary bulk in your manuscript. You know, the one who says, “That’s the best thing you’ve ever written. You can’t change THAT!”

Or how about when you know a character just isn’t pulling her weight and needs to go. Your shadow says, “But I LOVE her! The story can’t live if she dies!”

And there’s the one I really struggle wtih: the shadow of self-doubt. I’m sure you know her. She’s the shadow of the writer you were last year, a month ago, yesterday. Her favorite saying is, “All your best writing days are behind you. Why even BOTHER trying to make this story better. It’s TOTALLY yesterday’s news.”

As in the case of our favorite weather-predicting rodent, shadows can tell us things we need to know. They’re how our ancestors used to tell time. Shadows warn of us danger and bring us comfort as evening turns to night. But shadows can be a real nuisance to the revising process.

So don’t let your shadows scare you! Your best writing days aren’t behind you. If that character is dragging your story down give her a serious facelift or let her go. And if you think you need to slash 1000 words from your MS, you probably need to get rid of even more. Be honest with yourself. Send those shadows packing and bring your story into the light of day where it can really shine!

Sensibility- A shadow can be a friend or a foe. Let yours guide you in the revision process rather than slow you down.

Sense- As an exercise, remove as many words from your current manuscript as possible. When you think you’re done, take out 1000 more. For picture book writers, trim your manuscript to no more than 500 words. Then see if you can eliminate a 100 more.

What is the most difficult shadow you fight when revising?


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann Finkelstein
    Feb 04, 2015 @ 02:33:37

    The shadow of self doubt is often a Mordor-induced gloom around here. I soldier on.


  2. Erin
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 13:47:12

    Self-doubt is by far my worst shadowy enemy, along with a sense of impatience, wanting a scene or chapter to write itself, a feeling of wanting to move ahead quickly when slowing down is the only solution.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!” ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,950 other followers

Follow Sensibility and Sense on
The Winged Pen

It takes a flock to get a story aloft.

Angie Karcher

Writing Children's Books

Marirose Sanborn-Smith

Young Adult Fantasy Writer in Michigan

Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Erin Fanning

Author of mythic fiction, nature essays, oodles of short stories, magical knitting, hi-lo novels, and guidebooks too.


A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.


wonderings and wanderings in a writer's life


creative writing for the f..f..f...FUN of it


Swimming from Shalom to Shazizzle


Practical tips to help your writing dreams come true...

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Blog & website of children's book author Tara Lazar

Lauri Fortino's Frog On A (B)log

Sharing and Celebrating Picture Books Since 2009

Bri Bruce Productions

Design | Publishing | Photography | Art

Author Sandy Carlson (of Michigan)

writers, writing encouragement, writing ideas, craft of writing


an integration of society and religion

Michelle Bradford


Author | Speaker | Entrepreneur

%d bloggers like this: