Why Rewriting Is a Writer’s Most Valuable Skill

This GIF tells you all you need to know about my WIP.

Lilo on the left is my initial enthusiasm.  “This project is amazing!  Woo hoo!  This is the best idea ever.”

Stitch?  That’s the current reality – seriously?  Really?  Did I write this?  It is so lame.

And that, my writing friends, is why 90% of writing is in fact rewriting.  The idea, powered by enthusiasm, gets us started.

But that draft we get down on paper just is not as amazing as what we had in mind.  In fact, to get it even close, we need to rewrite.  No manuscript is perfect the first time around.  Not one.  Although some of them are pretty amazing even in the first draft, most require multiple rewrites.

Right now, I’m working on a contracted nonfiction project.  Before I start writing, I turn in an outline for my editor and I to go over.  Then I get to work.  That first draft?  Never perfect.  There are gaps.  THERE ARE COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS TYPED IN CAPS.  I fix these gaps and the capitalized issues in the next draft.

Then I check the word count.  The next draft raises or lowers, most often lowers, the word count.  It is also when I work on the reading level.  Then I print it out.

Why do I work from a print out?  Because I always catch things that weren’t obvious on screen.  As I later make the changes on screen, I also read aloud.  This gives me one last chance to hear it all and fix the rough spots.  Some writers can make their work sing without reading it aloud.  Others, like myself, need to hear their text read.

Yes, writing is a lot of work.  And many people get frustrated and give up when their first draft isn’t the sleek, star-bound story they imagined.  Unfortunately, giving up means that their story never really has a chance to take off.


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