At the start of each new semester, I have to help my students unlearn a lot of bad writing habits, the first of which is that good writing doesn’t just happen. It takes time, effort, and practice, which usually translates into multiple drafts. Nope, a writer can’t just magically sit down and write a single draft and be done.
Weird how I seem to have forgotten that over the past summer.
I finished the first draft of a novel last autumn, and have been struggling to rewrite it. I used it in my Lambda application in the spring, and even outlined the novel in my donorpage so people would know what project they were funding when they donated. But I haven’t actively worked on the novel since April, and at that point had only been rewriting for a month or two. By the time I turned in my Lambda application I was so sick of the book I set it aside.
Setting up my courses for the semester, and talking my students through the initial steps of the writing process, I remembered very clearly: this is not something people just know how to do. The writing process, that is. It is something which is learned through time and practice, and diligence.
And I have not learned how to rewrite, at least, not a novel. I have written 4-5 novels at this point, all first drafts. I have written and rewritten short stories, and even a novella or two. But my own rewriting process for those seems vastly different than the rewriting process for a novel. A novel is larger, and more complex, and thus, the rewriting process is probably equally longer and more complex.
In realizing that I didn’t know how to rewrite, I decided to recommit myself to this novel, and the second draft. But this time, instead of trying to race towards finishing what I would consider a “publishable” draft, and being frustrated that things were not perfect, I’ve decided this second draft is about me learning what my process of rewriting a novel is. This way, even if the second (or third, or fourth, or tenth, or whatever) draft comes out un-publishable, I will still have gained valuable insight and knowledge into my own process, which will certainly help with future novels and projects.
To that end, I’m going to be blogging periodically about my process of rewriting and revision, and what I learn along the way. I figure other writers might find it useful.
Continue reading “I’ll be writing more in a week or two”