Rewrites!

A barn in southern Maryland.

When I signed up for NaNoWriMo last November I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pull off 50,000 words of writing on one subject, let alone come up with a plausible storyline for a novel. The last fiction writing I’ve done was a couple of mediocre short stories that I write a year and a half ago. I’ve been far too involved in writing analytical term papers, short online articles, and encyclopedia articles. I thought my creativity had gone the way of the dodo bird. It seems like it was just hiding out in some writer’s cave, though.

I managed to pull off 73,000+ words in November, but I didn’t finish the novel. In December I took a break from writing it, but that lasted about a week before I started guilt-tripping over not finishing it. I started working on it again, but I think I ended up writing only about 10,000 words for the entire month — far less than in November, but still forward progress. But I still hadn’t finished the novel.

Now here it’s the second week of January and I’m stuck on how to finish the beast. So I decided what I need to do is go and start my rewrite process and fill in some plot holes. The rewriting is taking much longer than the original writing process, but surprisingly I don’t care how long it takes. I thought this was going to be some awful chore, but I start working on it and lose myself in the process. I’m glad; I was afraid that I was going to get sick of this and just put it aside once my classes started up again. But instead I tend to get grouchy if I haven’t had the chance to work on it at least a little bit during the day. I hope that’s a good sign! Yesterday I did no writing and I feel kinda lost.

One thing that everyone cautions writers about is to finish something and then put it aside for a few days or weeks before coming back to it. I’m not sure that it has to be days or weeks, but I’m pretty sure that at least one day is in order! You need to put some emotional distance between yourself and the words that you’ve just written in order to be able to rewrite or edit them properly. I’ve already cut out some stuff that I was pretty attached to when I wrote it. But hey, it isn’t working with the story, so it has to go. If I really can’t stand to part with it, I cut and paste it into another document so I can reference it later. Sometimes the ideas remain sound, or the cut text can work somewhere else, or I use it for notes.

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