I was raised in an academic writing environment, with such bullshit notions such as:
- you have to rewrite everything a few times before submitting
- good stories takes a long time to write
Let me just clarify: all the above are pure and utter crap.
The premise behind the rewriting is the fact that no one’s first try is perfect. That much is true. But you cannot simply ignore the basic growth of the human brain. As a matter of fact writers do get better at what they do, and will eventually come to a point where they write a not-so-shitty first draft.
I mean are we expected to labor on something for a couple of weeks (maybe months or years) and then throw it away simply because it’s a first draft? There are times when you’re so into it that you’re falling in love not only with the project but also with the process itself. Why dismiss those simply because of a label? An antiquated one at that?
I never write more than one draft, with the exception of Firstborn. That, I admit, was shitty at first. Every time I would open up the file on my computer I would cringe as if something was missing. After I got signed I was asked to rewrite it, which I did from scratch. That was a good idea. The story was good, the writing was not. So instead of editing over 90% of it, I decided to scrap it and start over.
However for any of my subsequent works, I have never scrapped a first draft and started over. That’s just dumb. Here’s the trick guys – I edit. I take entire paragraphs that give me that cringe feeling in my gut and I rewrite that small portion.
Point number 2: if you do something over and over again, you not only get better but you get faster. It takes me a few months to write a novel of about 80K words. However I would be very worried if by book 6 of Legacy I won’t be able to write an entire book in about 3 months. I mean if you aren’t improving at a somewhat steady rate, you’re doing something wrong.
So why am I lashing out at this? I’m writing this on a Saturday evening, which is so fucking sad – and a day after I had a huge internal conflict about this very topic.
The series I’m currently working on is different in that I want it to be serialized fiction – essentially a series of novellas that tell a few bundles of stories (like arc or seasons on a TV show, or maybe a volume in a manga collection.) So I am writing a short story which will serve as the first episode if you will – introducing the reader to the world and characters as well as tell a very interesting story.
When I wrote the story I was fully in the muse and I love it. Then I tried editing it, which meant I had a shit load of errors. Now here’s when things get bent: I have a routine. Get up, watch some episodes, get to work till late night, sleep and repeat.
Yesterday I thought I had enough strength of will to maybe switch it up and get to work immediately. Bad idea.
My OCD went haywire, my zen took a vacation and I was sweating within the hour over a damn story. I decided to rewrite the story, which I hated. I took the good parts and put it in the original one, which sucked big balls on a major ball sucking level. Then I edited it again, smoothing the rough parts and decided to divide it in chapters (cos it is kinda long). Took one chapter, made it the best I could have made it and then decided to go to a training session.
I didn’t actually make it – no parking. Stress level: High. Very fucking high.
So I go back home, give up on meeting people (because seriously, I was nearly a werewolf by the time I got home) and decided to reach out to my author friends for some help.
I email the chapter to a few authors I know wouldn’t hate me for doing so, and I got somewhat positive feedback.
And here I am today writing about it. The moral of the story is that you should follow your gut and follow through. Don’t rewrite unless you have to, but always edit your work because seriously, no one is that good.
And that’s my Saturday night, guys.
Till next time,
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