Rewriting Doesn’t Have to be Awful

As I continue to read other blogs and hear advice, the more I see a common theme around the editing process. I have a few feelings about some of the things they discuss.

First, let me tell you what I mean by rewriting. I started this third round as an edit after I was much more satisfied with my second rewrite. By edit, I mean fixing issues here and there but keeping the story pretty much the same. By rewrite, I mean completely changing scenes, sometimes in parts, sometimes in whole.

So, I did the editing. I was thrilled to go through my story, making changes and fixing or adding words where I needed to embellish the story. But I got to a point where I needed to change a scene completely. And by changing this scene, the entire second half of the book was going to need a complete rewrite.

Sure, it was annoying at first to realize the hard work I had put into the second rewrite (which I actually loved dearly) was going to be “scrapped”. But for some reason, rewriting my story has been absolutely amazing. And that’s where I feel myself diverging from the typical frustration that people seem to have around this process. Here’s some of the things I’ve noticed.

Editing/Rewriting is painful.

I tend to disagree here. Maybe that’s because I absolutely love the story I’m writing. It has been trapped in my brain space for quite a long time and finally seeing it on paper has me excited… even if it is terrible at first. This is my first book so of course I need practice. And practice. And more practice. But not once have I found this process painful. I get to write what I want, however. It is my story to tell, I have no deadlines, and I have freedom. So maybe that’s why it doesn’t suck.

All your hard work was wasted.

Absolutely not. For me, the NaNoWriMo challenge is what gave me the courage to actually put those first words on paper (or type). The idea of releasing your inner editor and just getting the story out was such a liberating experience. I never would have had those words without it. So, yes, when I realized I had to rewrite the story (not just edit, completely create the 50K+ words again) it was a little daunting. All of that first draft was for nothing!

But it wasn’t. That first draft was practice. It was exploring what it was like to write a book. I learned about myself as a writer, as a person, and as a creator. So each of those first draft words were a gateway to my second write, the completely reframed story. A chance to implement some of the better tools I had learned along the way. I had another chance to practice.

And then I started to edit that draft and now I’m rewriting the second half. It isn’t daunting. I see it as a chance to tell my story in a completely new way. I get to live with my characters and send them through challenges all over again. I get to be with them just a little bit longer, make their story better. Make myself better.

Reaching a scene you have to change and therefore “ruins” the rest of the book.

Sure, I was here. There is a scene in my book that I forced every single time I wrote it.

Every. Single. Time.

But it was pivotal because I forced my story in one direction. Keyword: forced. It didn’t work, but it was a changing point that influenced the rest of the book. Because I had an ending in mind and this scene pushed the story in that direction. The first write ended one way. The second write ended another way.

I had to learn through three rewrites that I had to find a way to get to an ending without forcing it. So, on this rewrite, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Some scenes are the same, some are drastically different, all needed complete dialogue and storyline fixes that agreed with that one scene.

I think I got frustrated with it for about one day. I let it consume me, I asked advice from my players and my dad, and finally, I let it just flow naturally. I stopped worrying about where I wanted the story to go and let the characters drive it for me.

Yes, in a sense, the rest of my book is “ruined”. But once again, it’s just a learning process. I told my story one way, then another way, and now a third way. That to me is more exciting than getting it right the first time. Once again, I get to live in a story that I’ve loved for so long.

Have you ever felt like some writing advice or frustrations seemed strange to you? Or am I just completely insane?

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