You’re trying to juggle a dozen things at once – an unforgettable first line, a fresh voice, an original theme, complex characters, mood and tone and conflict and a sense of mystery, and so on and so forth. In so doing, there’s a good chance you’ve inadvertently lost the most important element of all – clarity.
Triage. I didn’t come up with this myself. I heard it from the editor Sol Stein, who likens revision to battlefield triage - treating patients in priority order, not first come first serve. For a book, this means tackling the big stuff first. The stuff that is most likely to make a huge overarching impact on the book.
We’re talking about things like character arc, plot, point-of-view, entirely new scenes...
I spend a lot of time encouraging writers to reach into their hearts and get out of their heads (those inner critics are serious assholes). Only, there does come a time to unleash your intellect. That time is called revision.
These are my own tried and true techniques for revising without getting overwhelmed.
If you're hoping for an easy answer as to whether or not an MFA is worth it, you’re not gonna get it from me. Unlike the ex-teacher who thinks his students suck or the many characterizations of the MFA program as a ponzi scheme, I think their value depends entirely on a student’s unique circumstances.