Revision, Rewriting, Redoing
by MW Cook
I finished the first draft to my second novel on October 30th. It’s a rush to hit the save button and laugh over the epic word-count.
Now what? Print, pack and send off to the drooling masses?
Not for a long, long time.
I’ve compared the creative process to giving birth. It’s messy, painful, and sometimes you can’t remember why you’re doing it. But the baby at the end is always worth it. After the baby (novel) is born, what do you do with her? Do you dress her up, pat her on the head and send her off into the world? Not a chance. She’s not ready. She’s not complete. She cannot stand on her own two feet yet. So you spend the next few years raising her.
‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ – Ernest Hemingway
Thankfully I love rewriting and revising. I’m already halfway done my first pass. I have no idea how many passes I’ll need. It’s a great feeling to finally squeeze out the first draft. It’s an even better feeling to mark it up with red pen and turn it into the novel that it’s meant to be.
I think a lot of people get discouraged as they write because they recognize what they’re writing is crap. The thing is, it’s supposed to be crap. The first draft is just giving birth. It’s bloody, loud and not a thing you’d invite your neighbour to be a part of. You do it in secret, or maybe with a ridiculously close person. The baby needs to be cleaned up before you trust her with extended family. And most of the world doesn’t get to play with her until you decide she’s ready.
It’s the same with your novel. Don’t worry if it seems whiny or trite. Don’t worry about the shallow dialogue and the painfully obvious plot holes. It’s supposed to be that way. Your revisions will fix everything. Everything.
So write that crap. You can clean it up later.
I love this post. The giving birth analogy is exactly how I’d describe my writing then revising, revising, revising (X 10000) process.
What awesome insight but also what a catchy article. I mean, if we are being honest, how many times do you realllyyy make it all the way through someone’s post?
It’s so hard to find the right balance between revising until it’s great and realizing that at some point you have to let go of the thing. I think that with my over-confidence, I probably need to err on the side of revising a little more than I think, but I’ve also met writers who can’t ever let go, and I can see where I could succumb to that temptation as well.