As a writer–or any other sort of artist–it is important to be critical of your own work. I like how we can be confident sometimes and believe our first drafts are worthy of Pulitzer Prizes.
But let’s come back down to earth and realize that masterpieces aren’t written in an hour, maybe not even a year. It’s alright to look at your work through a different lens and point out some flaws.
When it comes to writing, rewriting is
sort of a requirement.
I might’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I started writing my first story when I was 14 years old, the summer before my sophomore year. I did it for fun without worrying too much about plot and characterization. All I was doing was stringing along these characters I’d come up with through random situations–whatever popped into my head.
Throughout my high school years, I started putting more thought into it. I believed ‘Yes, this is the one I’m publishing when I graduate. I’ll be just like S.E. Hinton with The Outsiders.’ When I wasn’t in class or doing homework, I was working on the story… rewriting here and there… closing plot-holes.
I was reading a lot too, learning from many different YA authors. Remember, kids: a large part of writing is reading.
By the time I graduated high school, three and a half manuscripts came out of that story, around 200-300 Word pages each. The fourth was never finished because… writing a war was hard.
At the time, I thought this was the “final” product. You can read the first “manuscript” here on my Wattpad page if you have free time and very low-standards. It’s been over six years since I’ve looked at those stories myself. I can’t get past the first paragraph without cringing. I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever look at the originals.
Fast-forward to summer 2015, and I thought I’d attempt another rewrite. Brand new scenarios and altered relationships between my core four characters: Amy Santali (protag), Jake Robins (guy-friend/love-interest/BF), Josh Santali (older bro), and Liz Martins (protag BFF).
Ew. Thinking about it now, these characters sound like the main cast of a Disney Channel Original.
Having written many different stories since 2010, reading different kinds of books, and pretty much just growing as a writer, I knew I could mold these four people into complex characters. Because I was working with an urban fantasy, I needed to continue growing within the genre as well.
But something happened that stopped me after less than a page. Call it writer’s fatigue or something, but the motivation was gone and that 2015 rewrite didn’t happen.
Now it’s 2016, and I’m attempting another, more serious reboot.
This sudden urge to reboot the O.G. of my stories was inspired by another book about changelings. The first had been Tithe by Holly Black (which I’m rereading now). This time the inspiration comes from The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff.
I have new ideas for this story, ideas I’m so freaking excited about it keeps me up at night just thinking about the possibilities. I know the routes I want to take–I can see the final destination but… for the life of me it’s hard to just sit down and write it!
And then I realized what my problem was… why I couldn’t revamp this story. I knew the results I wanted to get, and as an improving writer, I knew I could eventually write it to my own satisfaction.
The problem is… the wonderment is gone.
What do I mean by that?
I mean that 14-year-old Saffron was surprised by this story, intrigued by the randomness coming out of my brain and spilling onto the keyboard. 14-year-old Saffron didn’t know what was going to happen next, and that’s what kept her going. It was an adventure. Writing was a random hobby–no right or wrong or “making sense”.
Now, 23-year-old burnt-out-from-college Saffron wants to power through it because now she knows what to do and has the skills. You’d think knowing the beginning, middle, end, and everything in-between of the story would be an advantage when it comes to rewriting a work. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the opposite is happening.
I’d set the end of summer as a deadline for a complete rough draft (for this and The Page sequel). I know I can do it, but I don’t have the naïvete of a 14-year-old with nothing else to do.
Rewriting a work done recently doesn’t feel as difficult as rewriting a work from when you thought differently. I don’t think I can go back to the mindset I had when was 14 and my biggest stress was a math test.
So I’m sitting in front of my laptop, eating a brownie my sister made last night, and wondering what to write about for this blog post. Rewriting is the main writing issue I have right now (and sequel-writing, which feels loads easier).
What I’ve learned of this struggle so far is this:
If you don’t take your writing seriously, your readers won’t either.
Put in the effort if you want the results.
*cringe* That reads a little harsh. ↑
I guess I’ll turn the mic over to you, dear reader.
Does rewriting come easy to you? Do you cringe at the thought of having to rewrite your latest work? How do you power through it?
Thoughts, opinions, advice–comment below and share what you know.
Thank you for your time.