“There is no great writing, only great rewriting” – Justice Brandels

ImageSkirting this in just under the wire of November’s NaNoWriMo, which for selfish reasons I have renamed NaNoReWriMo. Yes, that’s because my entire November writing time has been taken up by the dreaded rewrite. This is the rewrite where you thought it was done. You thought it was perfect. You thought that every ounce of your creative being had been poured out, critiqued, reorganized, reworded, re-plotted, and critiqued again until you’re not really sure where the sentence/paragraph/chapter came from in the first place. And then someone—an agent, editor, writer’s group, or most oftentimes moi, the writer—says, “What if you were to (insert brilliant idea here)?”

I would venture to guess we’ve all been there. Depending on which stage your writing is in there is always more work to be done. As a very wise editor once told me: first drafts are made to throw up on. In my case, it’s sometimes the second or the third and so on. And with each revision, though I want to scream and tear my hair out, the new draft is always better. It becomes a whittling process where each pass goes deeper, sculpting and fine-tuning until shapes take form, and then shining it up for the world to see.

So if you’ve spent NaNoWriMo actually writing, then good for you. Fantastic, in fact. Now sit down and go back through it.  Read it aloud and take it apart from start to finish and from finish to start. Clean up those adverbs, cut out those extra words, those clichés, and those gawd awful metaphors that sounded so inspired when they first flitted off your brain. And then, when you think it’s perfect, when you think you’ll douse your body in gasoline if you have to read it one more time, do it all over again.

You can do it. Because that’s what writing is.

Happy NaNoReWriMo.

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About virginiapooler

Who me? I'm a UN Ambassador, Nanny, Accountant, FBI Agent, sheep dog .... oh, I mean Producer type and mystery writer..
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6 Responses to “There is no great writing, only great rewriting” – Justice Brandels

  1. So true! I once spent over two years writing and rewriting a book before I finally realized that no matter how much work I put into it, it was the concept that was off, so, sadly, I had to shelve it. Still, it was a great experience and taught me a lot about editing. Hope your NaNoReWriMo went well!

  2. Ahh, yes, I have one of those, too, and every once in a while I threaten to go back to it and apply what I’ve learned. I think, however, you are right: stick it in the old experience file and move the heck on. Thanks for checking in. Good luck with your new project!

  3. joelseath says:

    Yes, happy NaNoReWriMo! I’ve been there too. I’ll go there again!

  4. Jeff Swesky says:

    I did the exact same thing in November…however I moved into a new home during the month AND had a head injury shortly after my move, so my NaNoReWriMo has extended into December. This is my first complete rewrite on my novel, so another NaNoReWriMo (or two) will be in the near future. 🙂

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