Friday, March 13, 2009

Writing and Rewriting, Oh My!

I am slowly struggling to write a novel. I've had loooong periods of no writing, punctuated with some relative creativity. I'm slowly learning to shut off my internal editor to a degree to just get something, anything, on the page. If I don't, that confounded editor can freeze me up.

Lately I've hit one of those good periods, and have done more than what I've accomplished in a long time. Still, I'm probably only 1/4th of what I want to be. I'm determined to see this through, but I realize I'm in for a long haul.

On Facebook author Terri Blackstock wrote a note regarding the hard work of rewriting. She talks about the enormous amount of rewriting she does, and how it is the major part of working a novel into publishing state.

Good grief, Charlie Brown! I'm struggling as it is to get ONE draft done.

This is what she had to say regarding those beginning novelists she's tried to help:
But sometimes, they’ll receive what I’m saying with thoughtfulness, take notes, ask questions. That’s good. When I’m sure they understand what is needed to fix the problems, I send them on their way to rewrite their book. I’m thinking they’ll do what I do—take it through seven or eight or twelve more drafts, each time getting deeper into the characters, making the plot more intriguing, polishing the writing … For me, that takes months. But too often, they’ll call me a week later and say, “I took the afternoon off work yesterday and did all the rewrites you suggested. I think it’s ready to go.”
It goes without saying, she's not too impressed with this amount of effort. She did say that it doens't matter whether you write a full draft then rewrite, or if you rewrite page-by-page as you go. The key is that writing is talent, skill, but also perseverance and the willingness to put in the hard work.

*Sigh* Looks like I'm in this for the long haul. I'm willing, and I know it's not easy for anyone, but it's not easy with career and family/kids and ministry. Check back in 5 years when I've gotten my head on straight and gotten something substantial done, LOL.


  1. When I was in college I told my professor that I had writer's block. He said, "Oh, I can fix that. Give me thirty pages by tomorrow at noon." It was about five in the afternoon. I just stared at him blankly. "You better get moving," he said.

    And it worked. It was garbage, but it wasn't a blank page. And then we pulled the most promising pieces out and he told me to bring him a story worth reading.

  2. Anonymous2:52 PM

    Great post, Jason. Yes, we either decide to be in it for the long haul or quit or self-publish! ;-)


  3. All I can say're not alone!

  4. Jason, thanks for the post, I totally hear you. But even Hemingway said that the every first draft is horrible. But the idea is just to get it on paper, right? : )

    Love Terry's notes about rewriting there. That's fantastic advice. Thanks for posting and good luck man! "You can do it!" : )

  5. Jason,

    I'm on my fifth draft and still considering some major changes to speed things up at the beginning and give my main character a clearer motivation from the get-go.

    But boy does it take effort!

    Thanks for passing on the advice.


  6. Thanks for the comments gang.

    Matt- wow. I'm glad I didn't have that professor, I think.

    Becky - Tried to quit. Not allowed yet!

    Mark- What are you doing? Get writing!

    Alexander - Thanks! Good ol'Hemingway...

    Robert - Fifth? Good for you!

    A friend of mine saw this and emailed this link to give a different perspective. Interesting.