Writing is fun. Rewriting is not.
Editing, which is fine-tuning what you have, can be OK. But that’s not where I am not yet. Rewriting is changing things within your story that you think may have not been working too well. And it really, really stinks. And that’s exactly where I am now.
November 2011 I decided to write a short story. It turned into a novella. Then I turned it into a novel, the first in a series, to combine it with two other story ideas I had. I was pretty happy with my first draft of the novel version and moved on to the next story, book two of the series. I finished it and realized even though it wasn’t perfect, it was a lot better than the previous. Then I was attempting to write the third, but I felt really stuck. I didn’t know how to move forward at all. The second story laid some good groundwork, but I felt there needed to be more from the first book. And I knew there were some other things there that needed to be changed. So I decided to go back and rewrite the first book. That’s what I’ve been attempting to do for the past few weeks now.
And already I feel so completely stuck.
I have an idea of where I want to go with it, but I don’t have all the plot points detailed out like I did when I decided to expand the novella to a novel (I think it helped that I was reading Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell at the time, which by the way, I found to be extremely helpful and would recommend). So I suppose I ought to sit down and do that first, and then go from there. I have just spent the past two weeks or so feeling sort of scatterbrained, and everyday I do at least one thing that feels like a total fail. For example, several days ago the first thing I did when I got out of bed was walk right into a door. And then just a day or two later, I hit a curb on a curve really hard and it killed my tire. Needless to say, I have not been in tip-top shape lately. I also feel like I am laboring over my current read, Unbroken. It is a fantastic story, but it is a really hard read that gives you a very detailed look at life inside Japanese POW camps during WWII. It’s wearing and I’m ready for it to be over, as if I was living it. But the good news is, I have finally reached the point where the war is over, so hopefully it only gets better from there.
I may also go back to the third story, plot it out, then work on writing it before I go back to the first book. But sigh… I don’t know. Mostly, I think I may need a break from this particular universe. I feel bad ever abandoning a story I have been working on so much, and I feel like I need to see it through to the end, otherwise it will end up like the 50 million (OK, closer to just 50) partial stories I have written. But I have a goal I really want to see through, so I think I will come back before too long. I just need to be excited about it again.
Any other writers suffer from the rut of rewriting? What do you do? Any advice, even from non-writers, is appreciated!
Unbroken will stay with you always. What a compelling story.
You want to know how I found your blog? By googling “stuck on rewriting”. Says it all, doesn’t it? My baby is a play. I wrote the first version in an amazing three weeks because I had a deadline, it was supposed to be produced by an amateur company. Un/fortunately, the production did not happen. “great”, I thought, “for once I have the opportunity to write this as well as it should”. I had got to love the basic plot and the characters but, like you, I was well aware of some key flaws. It’s been two weeks now that I have tried to look at it from every angle, turned it inside out, decided to change mostly everything and then went back to the original version, and I feel like I am going round, and round, and round. Part of me wondered if I should just leave it and move on to a different project but I really want to get good at this and rewriting will always be part of the process if we are aiming for professional writing standards. So c’mon, let’s hold on, we will crack it. I will keep you updated on any break-through I make it, as I think it is a matter of finding a practical way to move forward. Please do the same.
(Jesus, my English…) 🙂