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So you’ve finished the first draft of your piece of writing. You’ve spent a lot of time working on it and now you’re finally done. To you I say: well done! Give yourself a pat on the back, but the truth of the matter is, you aren’t done yet. Not by a long shot.

All writing, irrespective of the type or genre, requires rewriting. Be it a short-story, a not-so-short-story, a script, a novel or even a poem – they all require 2nd, 3rd, 4th and sometimes even 5th drafts in order to make them perfect. Nothing good comes easy and nothing easy is good (usually anyway).

But in this particular article, I’m going to discuss rewriting a novel length piece of writing, a task which by the way, makes rewriting every other aforementioned form seem like child’s play.

If, like me, you have finally finished the first draft of your novel, then you are now faced with the daunting task of rewriting it. As if writing the first draft hasn’t taken up enough of your time… For me it was 4 months. It took me 4 long months of writing day after day to complete my first draft, which stands at 77,309 words to be exact. And in reality, the real work hasn’t even started yet.

My main problem when rewriting is that the process of writing goes from something that I enjoy and look forwards to, to something that I just don’t want to do. Rewriting saps every ounce of fun and creativity out of your writing and makes it more like an essay for a school project or piece of coursework. It has that same feel, when you’re writing to meet a criteria rather than to simply create something wonderful. But in a sea of sad truths, the sad truth of this curling wave is that said criteria will ultimately benefit the wonderfulness of your creation. So, in order to create a masterpiece, it just has to be done. So to you I say: get on with it!

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On that note, this leads me into point #1:

Set a criteria:

Before you even read the first sentence of your first draft back again, you should create a criteria. This criteria must be specific to your work and what you want it to achieve. Look at the novel on a whole and think to yourself ‘what message am I trying to convey within this piece of writing’ and then base your criteria on this message. So for example, if you have a character that doesn’t quite help to convey this message, then one of the things in your criteria should be to enhance that character and mold them into what they need to be in order to point towards your intended message.

You can go even further than that, you can go through chapter by chapter and create a list of your chapters and what role they play in your novel. Are they doing what they’re supposed to? Do they add to the story? Are they relevant at all? Make a note of what each chapter must achieve and then as you rewrite cross of each chapter as you go. This is an effective way to both enhance your work and actually feel like you’re making progress at the same time – which during a rewrite, is very beneficial.

#2: Wait!

Whatever you do, do not rush into your rewrite like a maniac. I would recommend spending a little time away from your work. Like right now, I’m leaving it a week before I even think about rewriting my novel. The reason behind this is pretty much just to make sure that you don’t burn yourself out. Rewriting is tedious enough without having to force yourself into it the day after completing your first draft.

Just relax, give your self a little time away. Take however long you need (within reason of course). Work on another project to occupy your time. Write some poems or short-stories or literally anything. This will help to keep your creativity burning bright and if you’re like me, it’ll keep you somewhat sane – if I don’t set aside at least a couple of hours a day to write I lose my fucking mind!

#3 and most importantly: Believe in yourself!

You’ve all heard the phrase: believe and achieve. And if you haven’t, well… Now you have! It is a phrase which bares relevance in all avenues of life and it is especially important in anything creative. If you don’t believe in your own abilities to be great, how can you expect others to see your greatness? Approach your rewrite – and everything else in your life – with a positive mind-set. Really think in your mind that you can achieve whatever you set out to. Go about each day with a plan and don’t stop until you’ve completed that plan.

So try it, believe in yourself. You never know what could happen!