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How Do You Tweak Your Work Process for Success?

You Beneath Your skin

Ok,so.

I’ve been very depressed all week. Why, you ask? Well, edits have stalled for both my books. Writing novels is not for the faint of heart, clearly.

I’m writing the next draft for THE BLUE BAR Sequel, and I’m editing You Beneath Your Skin for other markets.

If you’ve written or edited for any length of time, you know you have a process. You’ll go through the stages of writing or editing just like the stages of grief (yeah, I went there, sorry). They’re modified, of course. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance–all of them occur at various times.

You refuse to admit you have tons to edit; you’re angry you must get to it and haven’t; you give yourself all kinds of deadlines that you don’t meet; you get depressed at your paralysis, and then, you re-orient yourself to reality and just buckle down and get to it.

By You here I mean Me, of course. If you’re reading this and are an author, you have a different process for writing novels.

This is mine, and I may not be proud of it, but I can follow no other no matter how hard I try. What I’ve managed is to reduce the number of days/ weeks I devote to each stage. Sometimes it is down to hours.

The one thing that helps when I’m at the Depression stage of writing novels is someone telling me My Writing Doesn’t Suck. This time, the wonderful author Stella Oni  (if you haven’t read her work, you have a treat ahead of you! Click on her name to find her work.) did me that favor, by reviewing You Beneath Your Skin. I’m sure she had no clue her review would hit me just when I needed it the most and propel me from the depression to acceptance stage of my process!

Here’s the review that energized me:writing novelsThis review appeared at an opportune moment, but if that doesn’t happen while writing novels, I take recourse to reading old, positive reviews of my work which give me courage, and tell me that maybe I can write and edit, after all.

How about you? Does your work follow a process? Do you ever get depressed and discouraged in the middle of a project?


My lit crime novel, The Blue Bar will be out soon with Thomas & Mercer. It is already available for preorders. Add it to Goodreads or pre-order it to make my day.
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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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27 Comments

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    The fact that you are so good at editing and reviewing, it made the first book a super hit. I like how you have a process for editing. I feel frustrated with just one blogpost that I barely manage to finish. For you this feeling must be quadruple.

  • Sulekha says:

    I don’t have a process, wish I did though. Have abandoned a couple of stories midway. Writing is a lonely profession and sometimes the characters stop talking to you. Reading positive reviews is a good way to cheer up. Will keep it in mind when faced with writer’s block. Your book, You beneath your skin, is on my tbr and will surely share my review with you after reading it.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Sulekha–yes positive reviews are cheering, aren’t they? Thanks for keeping YBYS in mind–I look forward to your thoughts.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    Interesting that you apply the stages of grief to your own actions in addressing the edits. For me it’s Denial that there’s anything that needs changing, Anger that ‘they’ think the book isn’t perfect as it is [actually, bargaining and depression aren’t part of the stages as I know them but…] Bargaining would be ‘maybe if I just change these things they’ll be happy’, Depression is starting to realise that they may be right, and I’m rubbish. And Acceptance is getting on and doing it with good grace.
    You’ll get there.
    Of course, there isn’t anything that needs editing, AFAIK, but if someone with money says so, best do it. 🙂 Hugs.

  • I get frustrated when I think I’m farther along in something–say line editing stage–than I really am. To reverse and go back to developmental edits is so disheartening for me. I think I want to think that the intuitive writing in the first draft will hold up to the close scrutiny of the second/reverse outlining stage. It never does! So, I understand your depression and am so glad that review come along at the right time. Hope it’s smooth sailing from here on out. (But of course we know editing is always tricky!)

  • Jemi Fraser says:

    That’s a fabulous review! It’s so wonderful when a reader/reviewer hits you right in the heart! I had a moment last week that made my day as well.
    About to press “post comment” and crossing my fingers!!

  • Denise Covey says:

    Encouragement comes just when we need it and discouragement comes when we don’t. As writers, we just have to keep swimming upstream praying that there will come a time when we’re floating joyously downstream. My problem is that I just have too much going on. But I’ll get there. I’m determined.

  • Pam says:

    Hang in there!!

  • Hope the depression lifts soon. You are so talented and have much to be proud of.

  • Denise says:

    Good thing I don’t believe in coincidences…that review was perfectly timed because you needed to see it.

  • I use whatever process the particular piece needs at that time. As long as I can figure out what process the story needs, I’m fine. (Albeit sometimes easier said than done.)

  • JT Twissel says:

    Oh dear – getting edits back can be depressing but nothing to do but hop on it. It’s all a part of the process.

  • Christine Robinson says:

    Damyanti, I’m sorry you have to go through the grieving process in editing. I’m a first time published author, and my editors set me straight from the beginning. First editor said that it was a good story, worth rewriting. And targeting where and how. Second editor was into the story completely and targeted where I needed to write more. I was so busy writing, I put my left brain into gear and kept saying, “That makes sense.” Music helped. And now writing the sequel, 5 star reviews of the first book helped. And they wanted to know what happens next. Guess I’m lucky as a novice. It must be different for you as an seasoned author. 📚🎶 Christine

    • Damyanti says:

      Christine, I’m a novice too, and suspect will forever remain one.

      I’m doing edits based on my own instincts and inputs from my agent and a beta reader…but the topic is dark and I find it brings my entire being into a realm of deep sadness.

      All the best with your writing—I’m
      so pleased for you that it is working out.

  • I am so sorry that your editing has been getting you down, and admire your perseverance. Your writing doesn’t suck. Ever.

    • Damyanti says:

      Perseverance must do in order to make up for lack of talent 🙂

      Thanks for always being so supportive, Sue.

  • I think I go through that in the writing process. Edits I sail through rather well, but just getting on paper the first time is tough.

  • Dover Whitecliff says:

    Your writing definitely does not suck.

  • A whole lot in this post caught my attention, Damyanti. First–that beautiful review laid out in such a unique fashion. Loved that and happy you have such a dear reader. Second. THE BLUE BAR Sequel. Waiting… tick tock… Third. “editing You Beneath Your Skin for other markets”–I have no idea what that means! It can’t be what’s buzzing through my mind so I won’t even say that. Gotta Google it… Best of luck on the work!

    • Damyanti says:

      The sequel edits are killing me, so it was a great boost to receive a positive review! Thanks for reading and reviewing The Blue Bar, I appreciate that so much.

      Yes, good things are in the offing for YBYS 🙂

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