In this life as a writer, in this cruel journey of words and blockages, you will have grown to realise two things: coffee is too expensive, and rewriting your novel is perhaps the most difficult thing you’ve ever done.
It’s funny really, because you thought those exact thoughts after finishing your first draft, and thought that nothing could ever trump that as a mountain to overcome. Well, step aside first drafts, here comes the rewriting process, and it’s a whole different beast.
It’s in these stages that most writers fall off. They spend a week or two rewriting, realise how much work they have to do and how bad their book actually is, and then give up and start over, certain that this next one will be the one.
Well, my friends, I’m sorry to tell you… The one does not exist.
Rewriting is so hard simply because of that. No matter how long you have written for, no matter how many novels you have under your belt, you’re never going to write a perfect book with a first draft. A lot of people can’t accept this as fact, and since they can’t stand the thought of having to spend the rest of their days as a writer rewriting, they call it quits and move on to something easier like plumbing or neurosurgery.
This is something I wish to end. And that’s why I bring you ways around these pains.
Rewriting is Like Skydiving
You just have to do it. You just have to dive right out of the plane without looking back.
The writers who are best at rewriting, are those who simply grit their teeth and get on with it. They have a terrible first draft, they have a plan of attack, and most importantly, they have a desire to make said first draft not so terrible.
Every writer has that desire, you just have to discover it first.
Once you switch your thinking, it’s east to develop. You should think of writing a book in two stages: first you tell yourself the story, then you tell the reader the story. First you get the words onto the page, and then you make them presentable.
In order to polish your car, you must first buy a car.
An Angle of Attack
If you’re struggling with how to go about your rewrite, I have just the solution: think purpose.
When you attack a rewrite with this in mind, you can really break things down and channel incredible fluency into your writing. For the purpose of this tip, we shall discuss purpose on a chapter-by-chapter basis.
For each chapter you work on, think of its purpose. Do this before you even begin rewriting. Grab a piece of paper and write a little about the purpose of the chapter in relation to your overall narrative. Where does it lead to? Which characters does it cover? Why does it cover them? How does it move the plot forward? Where does it move it to? These are all the things you should be thinking about.
Once you’ve addressed that, and have really thought about and discovered the purpose of the chapter you’re working on, dive right in. When you work through the chapter and come across anything that strays from its purpose, cut it out and don’t think twice. If it doesn’t add to or develop the purpose of the chapter, then it isn’t a necessary part of the story.
In the same sort of way, if you come across an entire chapter that serves no purpose in the development of your plot, delete that too. Your writing is much neater when only the necessary components of your narrative remain standing.
Apply This to Your Rewriting
A tip is only as useful as it is applicable, which is why I think this tip is highly useful, because anyone can apply it to their rewriting game. Make use of this technique as you move through your rewrite and see how much of a positive impact it will have.
A lot of great things happen when we focus on purpose – and that goes for anything in life, not just the art of writing. So, whether it be in writing, or in something other, focus on your purpose and lead the life your soul yearns for.
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