Writing is… Rewriting

Any writer who says they don’t rewrite is either a complete liar or a partial liar. Maybe they edit as they go along, or maybe they really do THINK their work is perfect. If you’re new to writing (I have been writing for 20 years and consider myself new to writing) then you might be fooled into thinking that if your first draft sucks, YOU suck. But that is simply not the case. Your first draft will probably NEVER be perfect.

Shannon Hale, the author of dozens of books mostly for middle grade readers, says “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” When I found this quote on goodreads about 5+ years ago, it really clicked: A first draft is about getting it all out on the page, all of the little ideas swirling around, seeing how they come together… what fits? What doesn’t fit?

That’s one of the reasons why programs like NANOWRIMO are awesome. You don’t have TIME to worry about if it sucks, or to fix this or that. You must simply KEEP GOING until the first draft, or at least 50k words, is done. Most drafts are more than 50k words, but that’s not the point… the point is to write. Just get it all out on the page. You have nothing to rewrite if you didn’t write anything to begin with.

Now you can settle down and reread your draft with a critical eye. Read books about writing, writing tips from authors you respect and admire, read about outlining methods, and do some serious prepwork for your second draft. Let your story tell YOU what it wants to be. Have fun with it.

And remember – when you’re crying because your first draft sucks, you should be PROUD. You WROTE a FIRST DRAFT. That’s more than many aspiring writers do. You put in the work. Be happy, smile, take a break. Soon it will be time to rewrite. And that’s when the real art begins.

Published by thegratefulpoet

I am a writer and artist living in the Pacific Northwest. I love to talk about books, writing advice, cats, tea, tarot, yoga & activism.

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