Staying Positive When It Comes to Rewriting

Staying Positive When It Comes to Rewriting
Rewriting and Positivity = Sharpies

I thought that I’d have this down. I thought that writing my second draft would be easy.  I thought I could stay positive when I started the rewrite. I was wrong. So, so, soooo wrong. I was cocky and expectant. I thought that by now I’d surely be able to finish it and be ready and raring to go for more edits. Did you know that only 5% of an a first draft makes it into the second? Five per cent. Do you know how terrifying that actually is? This novel has been a work in progress for 12 years from it’s conception as an idea I had in year 9. I didn’t know it back then but my English teacher had been trying to get me ready for what would come when I wrote the scene I’m about to rewrite for the billionth time. I remember pumping out the first draft, the very first draft of the scene I’m writing and I’m not even sure if I have a copy of it (man knowing my mother, I probably do), but I thought it was perfect, magical, a work of art. I went into class thinking, I totally had this for the rewrite. What my beloved teacher, Mr Hafter did, made my head spin. It stripped me of my confidence and I was left actually rushing to meet the time limit. He told us to put away the draft we had so carefully written and write it from memory. From. Memory. Do you know how terrifying that was as a 14 year old? I could memorise Greek poems in front of a mirror in no time, but writing what I had just written the night before. Horrifying. I didn’t know then, but Mr Hafer was instilling me with the tools that I would need to be a writer, I just didn’t know it. So I signed up to do Camp NaNoWriMo and I have to say, I was a bit hesitant because it’s April and not November, my brain doesn’t know how to compute this much intensive writing so early in the year but I’m trying it. And it coincides with my draft deadline nicely. So there’s that. I didn’t expect to feel so much resistance and just complete and utter terror. See, generally I just write through it but I actually had a battle with self-doubt demon. I didn’t think my writing was right and everything I put on my page was fake, force and plain boring (seriously it was only like a few sentences, but it was enough) but I was doubting that I was a good writer. That my characters weren’t real. I was even doubting that anyone would read it. What happened? I’m normally someone who doesn’t care about being published (while I would love to be a best selling author right now), it hit me hard. This is a market that is tough, you are critiqued for every sentence and judged by a cover, you have to have a thick skin and go with the flow, or you won’t survive. I’ve had rejections for stories time and time again but you know what? That’s okay. The time just wasn’t right. I realised that I was terrified of getting what I wanted. Of finishing the story and getting it out into the world. Why is it so ingrained in me to fear the fact that I’m trying to deny myself happiness? It needs to stop. I tried to go tot he gym and use it as a distraction to get writing, and it didn’t help. It wasn’t until I was talking to Peta that she got me started on something. She told me to get out a pen and some paper and write whatever came to me, what I was feeling, what was stopping me, and just get it down on the piece of paper. The most important thing was getting it on paper. My wrist cramped up and I nearly brought myself to tears, but I broke through it. I made Lucy stand up and own the story. I got back on track. I wish I could say that I rid myself of my fear of failing but it’s there. All I can do is work through it. Move past it. Let’s just bring us back to the realisation that only 5% of my first draft is going to end up in this rewrite. I spent a little time today actually going over the next 7 chapters of my novel (I had already done the first 7 using my method) and writing what the key factors of each chapter was. I need to know this. I could work blind but if I did that I would be twiddling my thumbs a lot and letting Peta win (can’t have that!). I came to a great AHA! moment. I never knew where some of the flashbacks came from and today, it worked. It all finally slipped into place AND I can start the layering for the next book. Well not in this draft, but the next one, but it’s there. I have it. I can do tis. What has been your fear jolting realisation over the last week? Or better yet, do you have some self doubt going on? Leave me a little note below and let’s see if we can crack through it together.

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4 Comments


  1. Redrafting is my favourite part of the process. Putting down a first draft is the hard part for me! Still relate to your anxiety, though. You’re still at it, so you’re doing well!

    Also kudos on the great start with Camp NaNo! You and Peta are going great!

    Reply

    1. Currently criticising myself for using ‘still’, ‘part’ and ‘great’ twice each in the space of a short comment. Little insight for you into my writing mind 😛

      Reply

      1. I don’t get how it can be! I’m actually like oh god. Maybe it’ll get easier after this one. Maybe. Who knows! Hahaha that is also brilliant. There’s a little perfectionist in all of us!

        Reply

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