Revitalize Your Revision Process with One Easy Trick

It can be easy to grow discouraged while revising your story, whether novel-length or shorter. The elation of finishing the first draft wears off, and you're left with multiple rounds of critiques, followed by picking apart & reworking a project into which you've already invested so much of yourself. It can feel endless, or at times even hopeless.

When you're deep in that process, it is also easy to lose sight of the progress being made with each round of revisions. If you find yourself losing perspective, try this trick:
    Use the "Compare Documents" feature in MS Word to see how far you've come from that first (almost certainly messy) draft.

Of course, this assumes that you're saving the various versions of your work in progress—which you absolutely should be doing. (If not on your computer, then in periodic backups. Seriously, when was the last time you backed up your manuscript? Do it now!)

Here's how to find this feature (on a Mac; PC versions of Word may vary but should be similar enough): 
  1. Go to Tools -> Track Changes -> Compare Documents
  2. This will open the menu below:
  3. For the "Original Document," select your completed first draft.
    • If you don't already have it open, click on the little folder or select "browse" from the drop-down menu. 
    • If you do already have it open, you can select it directly from the drop-down.
  4. For the "Revised Document," select your most recent draft.
  5. Make sure to open the extra settings (with all the check boxes) and to select "Show Changes in New Document"!
    • This will leave your original files exactly as they are and open a brand new file highlighting the differences.

Why go through the trouble? Because seeing your progress highlighted in bright colors (depending on your settings) will help you appreciate how much you've done and how far your story has come! Whether you save this new document or simply scroll through to see all those changes, it's sure to help you find the motivation to keep working toward that compelling story readers will love.

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