Revising on the Road

I’d like to introduce Anushka to my blog today. She is a great friend and talented writer. Hope you enjoy her tips on revising your novel while traveling.

Punctuation, revising, Bad Spelling, Writing, Enticing, writer, Devin Berglund, Katie CrossDefinition: Revision (n): Condition sparking procrastination among writers.

The last two years has seen my current WIP travel with me to nine different countries. With each country, there is a beautiful memory of a scene that came to life and of chapters that have been born and revised. Like every writer, I have also experienced my equal share of procrastination.

However, there comes a time in a writer’s life when one discovers there is no more room for excuses. Especially when nearing the final stages of revision on a story that has captured your soul. Since my love for travel is not going to go away anytime soon, the beautiful Devin has asked me to share some tips I have found useful while revising on the road.

I hope you enjoy the following sneak peek into my process from my latest trip to Bangkok last month.

My Revision Process: One week in Thailand.
Revision Status: Final Revision

Before Your Trip: Set Goals

This is important. It is easy to pack everything related to your WIP, but being specific is the key, especially when on the road. It is more manageable and far less frightening to approach a manuscript in need of your attention knowing you have to deal with bite sized pieces.

Since I knew this was a short work trip, I took with me a maximum of 5 printed chapters to work on ranging from minor fixes to the more complex and placed them in a separate folder. Because lets face it, trying to convince yourself you have do twenty chapters in a week is difficult even in the best of times so setting realistic goals is the key here, especially when on the road.

My travel binder consisted of the following:

1. 3 x Chapters requiring minor fixes
2. 1 x Chapter requiring complex fix
3. 1 x Chapter of my choice. This ended up being a chapter I have always loved requiring a moderate fix.
4. Relevant scene cards to chosen chapters
5. Story timeline
6. Scene outlines

On Route: Productivity
It doesn’t matter what mode of transport you take to get to get to your destination, there are actually many opportunities for you to get ahead in your revision before you even arrive at your final stop. Unless you are on an elephant, then enjoy the elephant ride and take everything in!

Airports for example, are a great opportunity for people to pull out laptops and notes and get to work. Does that work for me? No. I love people watching too much while sipping on an overpriced beverage. However, the magic for me happens on the plane and I’ll tell you how.

1. Ignore the movies.
– Have your laptop and travel binder ready for easy access. You are far less likely to make excuses once the plane takes off.
2. Envision your future.
– When the plane is preparing to take off, I get out my notebook and remind myself why I want to be a writer and go through my goals. Just reminding myself I want to be published one day and have contracted books waiting to be written sends shivers down my spin. I no longer care about the lack of movies in my life.
3. Refer to travel binder.
– I flick through my carefully put together folder, choose a chapter and do the required edits by hand (sometimes this happens on my laptop, but it varies from scene to scene). I also ask for hot water and make myself a tea to make this more fun.
4. Polish chapter on Scrivener.
– I refer to my scene card and double check all changes have been made before declaring said chapter officially complete. I also use this time to go through my timeline and make sure my characters don’t suddenly know something they shouldn’t.
5. Reward yourself.
– If your brain doesn’t feel like looking over another chapter, that’s okay. Reward yourself with a movie or a good book. On this occasion I fell asleep. The beauty of eliminating distractions from the start is, I’m already ahead.

Arrival at Destination: Finding Routine

There aren’t many things you can control when travelling to a place you have never been to before. There are so many things to do and see it’s hard to find the balance between excited, intrepid traveller and ‘serious writer.’

There have been trips where I have made any excuse under the sun not to work on my WIP and others where I have made incredible breakthroughs. This trip I was committed to make progress no mater what.

Here were some of the options I considered when thinking of a flexible routine:

1. Wake up half an hour early to work on revisions
2. Revise last thing at night
3. Go to the hotel lobby to work
4. Explore a local restaurant or roadside stall and dedicate 30minutes towards chosen chapter

When travelling on my own options 1 and 2 have been great. However, I was travelling with a bunch of work friends and my husband. The last think I wanted was to wake up early or stay up late.

If this happens to you, don’t stress. Each trip is different, respect the journey. Keep in mind there is always something that will work, so make sure you find that perfect fit no matter what. No excuses. Opportunities are right there in front of you, seize them with both hands. Always.

For me, what happened on this trip was quite unexpected. I went to the pool bar, ordered an amazing Cookie Monster Cocktail and zoned out the world without feeling like I was missing out. Looking back, that was one of my favourite experiences of the trip so far. Did I mention the Cookie Monster Cocktail?


Choosing a range of scenes was the best decision I made and I wish I knew to do this on previous trips. It was liberating not working in chronological order and every chapter felt like a mini project I was excited to dive into and complete. Having a selection of chapters ranging from minor-complex in difficulty really helped me revise when the opportunity presented itself because it didn’t matter how I was feeling mentally at the time.

I ended up completing 3/5 chapters I selected. I even managed to iron out some kinks with scenes I have been avoiding. 3 of the 7 days I was away was work related, so in future I need to learn to take factors such as all day conferences into consideration as well.

I hope my process has inspired you to be productive no matter where you are in the world and has sparked ideas on what might work for you.

If anyone has any travel tips feel free to share.

Thank you so much for having me Devin!

Love and light,

Anushka xx

running, Go Far, Fargo, Writing, Running, Blogging, Devin Berglund, Beta Readers, Beta Reading, Novell, AnushkaAnushka Dhanapala

is inspired by all things macabre and dark. Lover of everyday moments, old graveyards, black wings and endless cups of tea. She may or may not be afraid of the dark. You can follow her at her blog:



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14 thoughts on “Revising on the Road

  1. Great advice! I just went on vacation and managed to edit over half of my novel while I was there. I guess it helps that I was just lounging by a lake! I’ll admit that I never print my chapters off to edit, but that’s an idea I’m going to consider!


    1. I really enjoy printing my chapters off to edit on. There is just something great about the printed word. Kinda see it in a different light. 😛 Hope your vacation was great.

    2. Half a novel! That’s fantastic! Must find myself a lake. Having the chapters in hard copy really does make a difference, I hope you find it helpful 🙂 – Anushka

  2. Wow, the detail in your revision puts me to shame. I admit I tend to have a notebook and a word document and work through it chronologically. Which has the downside that the end of my novel is not as polished as the start (sometimes life gets in the way before I get all the way through). I’m determined to be less lazy and make more effort with my next novel!

    1. Anushka sure has some amazing advice, doesn’t she?

      Glad you enjoyed it. I also tend to work through my edits chronologically and have found the same sort of problem.

      Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. I will check out your blog as well. 🙂

    2. Hi Amanda! Have you tried Scrivener? It really helps seeing the novel in little bite-sized pieces, opposed to a never-ending document that goes on and on and on. It also helps shake things up a bit by not working in chronological order. It was strange at first when I tried revising things out of order, but it’s far less tedious going to where the major fixes are straight away instead of starting at the beginning which tends to be more polished and slugging your way through. I’ve been following your blog, you are amazing keeping up with your daily instalments! You also manage to market and edit your books on the side around 2 little children! Crazy!

      1. Thanks, Anushka. I have tried Scrivener but I don’t think I gave enough time to the tutorial because I really struggled with it. The only time I regret using Word is when I move a chapter and then have to relabel (and relink, because all my books are formatted for Smashwords as I write) all the subsequent chapters. I think the danger for me, editing out of order, would be assuming something had happened when it hadn’t, because I work on Mondays and Thursdays with not enough sleep in between!

        I have a great editing book (The Little Book of Self-Editing for Writers by Bridget McKenna) which I have found that helps with non-structural editing, by searching for ly words and other signs of poor writing. It’s the structural editing I need to get better at. I may steal scrivener ideas and write chapters on real index cards, as I respond well to visible structuring!

        I’m so glad you’re enjoying the daily blog – makes it worth the effort!

        1. Oh my goodness, Scrivener! I love scrivener! The thing that I get annoyed with in Word is that once you have 20,000 – 80,000 words you have scroll on and on. But with Scrivener, you have your story outline of index cards. Then you can click on your events/index cards and it jumps you to that section of the story! 🙂 Although, like you said you can definitely do that with real index cards.

          I will probably need to check out that editing book! I am currently in a revision with my novel too. I checked out your website and love it. You are really good at what you do all while fulfilling mummy duties. 🙂 Which is awesome!

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