Wednesday, 29 December 2010


Two posts ago I talked about how difficult I was finding the rewrites. Many of my friends came forward with solutions and advice. I thought I would share some of them with you as I tried these and they worked.

Firstly I left it alone for 24 hours, trying not to think about it or look at it and then before I started to work on it again I went for a walk. Thinking through my ideas as I walked, letting them slowly form and take shape so that by the time I was back home I knew what I was doing next.

The next bit of advice referred to my work methods. I started working on a hard copy which ensured I didn't miss any tweaks I wanted to make but also as was suggested with a notepad by the side to make notes for bigger changes. I also only worked for an hour at a time then had a break then went back to it.

These all worked so thank you to Helen, Kathryn and Mariam in particular. Though the irony is that these suggestions are all things that I tell my students to do. A question of physician heal thyself maybe - not!

I managed to achieve a lot yesterday with my rewrites. They are still not 100% right but I am getting there. I think what helped more than anything is that I was able to acknowledge there was a problem and that I was daunted by the enormity and importance of the rewrites. Then knowing I had the support of a huge number of friends I gave myself permission to accept this concern and to deal with it in small chunks. It suddenly became manageable and approachable.

It is a rare thing for a first draft to be complete and not require any editing. Rewrites are important as they give you a chance to hone your craft and polish your narrative. They should not be avoided and they need to be approached bravely. Sometimes you need to get rid of your favourite bits just because they don't work. That can be very hard if you have spent hours agonising over a perfect sentence only to remove it during the rewriting process.

Once the rewriting is done then comes the editing. Looking for anomalies of tense (of which I think there may be many in my case), inconsistencies (people called George at the beginning and Fred at the end) and of course punctuation and spelling. These are all vital processes of writing which cannot be avoided.

So am off to complete the rewrites including a new sex scene....think of me.

But also a huge thank you to all my friends who provided the solutions to my brain block. My PhD is all the better for you x


  1. rewrites are really tough - i am trying to train myself not to deny the need when it comes up. especially those rewrites that require entire new scenes. and the cutting of lovely writing. it feels like such a huge task ahead. as they say in Finding Nemo, "just keep swimming"

  2. Oh Candy I am glad it is not just me. It does feel like a huge task. As you say it is a case of training yourself to accept that it has to be done even to your precious story.

    Are we allowed water wings as we keep swimming?

    At the moment I am rewriting but am not convinced it is better. Maybe when it is a whole again I will be able to see it clearly (now - sorry was going to slip into song then but no one deserves that!).

  3. Rewrites are much harder than first drafts to me - you're not alone! And to me the hard part is often trying to work out which changes work, and which don't. I particularly hate that moment when I realize I've rewritten a scene five times and after it all.... realize I like it best the first way.
    All part of the fun?!

  4. Teri I agree totally. At the moment I am supposed to be rewriting/removing chapters that are a bit 'talking heads' but am not sure if I have actually just replaced them with more talking heads. How is yours going Teri?

  5. I don't know! Since I don't even know what 'talking heads' are. Apart from Psychokiller.
    (My novel isn't really going just now; I hope to regain a brain soon - next week?)

  6. Talking heads is where your the characters are doing a lot of talking but not actually moving the plot forward at all. Just filling in back story or other details. Maybe my brain has gone on holiday with your brain. Wish they would send us a postcard.

  7. I'm sure they are having a great time :O)