On Revising…

Recently I was chatting with a friend about our novels. We both are in the process of revising and editing our first drafts, which is also known as writing our second drafts. 

I had been stuck with a particular plot point that was pretty major and I just couldn’t put my finger on what was getting to me. It turned out that my protagonist’s big goal/desire wasn’t quite right, which was driving the wrong scenes and messing up the whole trajectory of the story I was trying to tell. We talked it out and I hit a breakthrough…that will basically call for me to rewrite 80% of my novel to “fix” this.

Why write one novel when you can write the same one twice?

I had to ask myself this and laugh, because that’s the big thing new writers don’t always hear: there is a huge difference between drafts, between editing and revising, and between writing and rewriting. Sometimes, your drafts need to be revised with minor changes, deletion and addition of scenes, and sometimes you gut your novel back to the studs and rewrite. 

Either way, it’s OK. Sure, it can be frustrating because it is such a labor, and we pin really high hopes of goodness on our writing. But you have not failed if you need to majorly revise or rewrite. It’s part of the process. And you’re doing great, and you’re growing. 

So here’s the reminder if you need it: Sometimes you just need to chop it down and rebuild, and that is perfectly fine and perfectly normal. 

It’s a process. And sometimes you have to tell yourself the story before you figure out which story you’re really telling and how you want to tell it. Let yourself flail. Let yourself try different things. Let yourself write without editing until it’s time to actually edit.