Rewrites: 5 Reasons it’s Worth Sticking with them

Yes, my post is late. Again. And I plead rewrites.  I’ve probably used that excuse at least once, but there it is. I could go for plague, but then you might be a bit surprised if I ever wrote again.

Anyway, I am FINALLY nearing the end of an epic round of rewrites. I have never spent as long in rewrites – I am now over the 1 year + mark on the same novel, which is unheard of for me. And yes, many times it has felt like I was smashing my head into a rock in hopes of the rock breaking. Believe it or not, I think it has.

Today’s post is about WHY I would continue to with these endless rewrites (other than sheer stubborn pigheadedness and a refusal to quit). Here are my 5 reasons to stick with a massive overhaul kind of rewrite (like the one where the whole book essentially needs to be chucked.)

5. You are a bit of a fanatic when it comes to “making it right,” and perhaps earlier attempts were misguided. This time, you have an actual PLAN! (For more on rewrite plans, see earlier posts Rewrites in 4 easy phases and accompanying pieces.)

4. You deciphered what the problem was, and have confidence you can fix it .

3. You have gotten outside help and suggestions that have given you back energy and excitement for the piece.

2. It’s potentially connected to other books in a series, or is part of a larger series plot.

1. There is something you still LOVE about the story that means it doesn’t deserve to just rot in a drawer somewhere.

For me, reason #1 is perhaps the only reason I was able to stick with rewrites for this long. Because, despite the hardship and the frustration (and  yes, I have tried to throw away this book before), there is something I still find compelling about the characters and their journey. Even when I am so frustrated I want to burn the whole darned thing, that love halts my action. And frankly, if you don’t have that love, it probably is not worth such an arduous journey. Go write something new.

This book will, someday soon, actually be DONE. And these horrifically long rewrites have made it worth it. The book is better. And you know what? I think I’m a better writer, too. This was one of those “learning” books where I think I came up another level, achieved something more in my craft. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect, because as a writer, I’m still learning – I hope I always will be. But darn it, I think I can actually see the light. And I know that no matter what becomes of this book, I’m proud of myself for improving it, for forcing myself to learn and grow to bring it closer to my original vision.

What about you – have you ever had a really long rewrite? Was it worth it? What makes you stick with a rewrite when things get tough?

Thanks for reading, and have a great week. Happy writing out there! 🙂