January 19, 2017 17 Comments
Rewriting. As writers we tend to get hung up on getting it right the first time, simply put. In fact, if you’re rewriting your opening chapter for the tenth time in the last three months, you need to do something: Go to the nearest ice cream store and treat yourself.
Seriously, get the biggest chocolate Sundae you can and gorge.
When you’re done with it, ask yourself, “Do I want another?”
As much as you loved it, you probably don’t want to subject yourself to an even bigger stomachache.
It’s the same thing with rewriting the first part of your book. Why go back and write it over and over? You’re going to get so sick of it that you’ll lose focus and before you know it, a year’s gone by and you’re lucky to be halfway done with your novel.
Write it all out from point A to point Z first (or point A to L to B to Y to 3 to Q, however you write). Because you’re going to do something to the book halfway through that’s going to require some changes be made to the beginning anyway.
And at that point you’ll really be pissed because you would have spent all that time polishing your opening up to perfection.
Don’t worry about getting it right until it’s done.
Then and only then can you stand back and look at your project as a whole and determine where the changes need to be made.
Also, by rewriting the same thing repetitively, you’re not learning and growing. And without learning and growing, there’s no room or chance for improvement. Instead, you’re the Griswolds in European Vacation circling around the roundabout. You’re essentially just moving words around.
My wife stopped reading one of my manuscripts years ago because she said, “I can’t remember which version is which.”
It’s imperative that you write something to completion so that you can experience and learn about the writing process as a whole. What good is mastering the opening if the rest of your book sucks? You’ve got to train yourself and put yourself through the dreary middle and perfect the ending.
You’ve got to learn to pace the action, keep the pages turning, and learn how to find the answers when you’ve written yourself into a corner. Circling the roundabout, you’ll never discover new streets or actually get anywhere.
Write that book to completion. Take it all the way through, even if your opening is weak. The trick is, having confidence that it’s not so weak that it’s a hopeless cause.
And by God, that is a trick! So good luck with that one! Just kidding, I’ll address that later.