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  1. #11
    Doing a complete re-write is extremely common. Everyone does it at least a couple of times. That's just part of writing. The longer you do this, the less common it becomes, at least in my experience, and I haven't had to start from scratch in more than a decade. The only way to get better is to keep going.

    But here's something that most new writers don't want to acknowledge. There is no such thing as motivation. Motivation is an excuse to be lazy. Writing isn't about sitting around and waiting for your muse to get done with their coffee break. It's about putting your butt in a chair and writing, whether you are motivated or not. You do it because it's got to be done, not because you feel like it. You don't see professional writers sitting around scratching their ass and waiting for motivation. They are constantly working because it's the only way to keep paying the bills. They do it because it has to get done.

    The operative word for writers isn't motivation, it's dedication. It's not giving yourself a choice. It's sitting down every single day and writing. It become a habit, but it only becomes a habit if you make yourself do it for a long period of time. Nobody ever said it's going to be easy because it's not. Training for a marathon isn't easy either. You don't wait until you're motivated either. You just go do it. It's the only way to get anywhere. Otherwise, you're just wasting your time.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Cephus View Post
    But here's something that most new writers don't want to acknowledge. There is no such thing as motivation. Motivation is an excuse to be lazy. Writing isn't about sitting around and waiting for your muse to get done with their coffee break.
    When I'm referring to motivation, I'm not interchanging it with inspiration. I'm literally talking about forcing myself to not be lazy about the rewrite. But thanks.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by InTheThirdPerson View Post
    I wrote my first novel.

    I am in the middle of writing my first novel.

    Yep, I realize the contradiction of those two statements. So here's the situation...

    Setting the way back machine to...well, quite some time ago... I had an idea. It bounced around in my head until it became a story, and then I wrote it. At first I was too busy being utterly astonished I had actually completed a novel (and a little burned out), so it just sat there for almost a year before I actually went back and read it.

    And it was terrible.

    I mean, the story wasn't terrible. At least I don't think so. Rather, how I wrote it was terrible. The way the story formed in my head was in the first person, so that's how I wrote it. However, for this story, I realized that just didn't work. At all. It required too much exposition in the form of characters coming up to the main character with stuff like "so this happened to me..."

    Plus the scope of the story is large enough that it really needs the perspective of some of the other characters.

    So here I am, completely rewriting this book. From the ground up. I'm converting it to the third person (oh hey... look at my user name...). And in some ways, this feels almost harder than initially writing the book. This is way more than minor surgery. It's more like removing the brain from the patient and growing an entirely new body to put it in.

    The hardest part is staying motivated. After all, I've already TOLD this story. So I keep having to set it aside so that I can come back to it and it feels fresh again. Which is part valid and part excuse.

    Anyone else been there? As in not just fixing some things here and there, but literally faced with rewriting almost every word?
    Iv'e written two in my universe for NaNowriMo, I love the story and the universe i am building but the writing was horrible, they both need re-writing badly. But being me I have continued world building and started somethign new in that universe. It helps to have the other two for background at least.

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheThirdPerson View Post
    And it was terrible.

    I mean, the story wasn't terrible. At least I don't think so. Rather, how I wrote it was terrible. The way the story formed in my head was in the first person, so that's how I wrote it. However, for this story, I realized that just didn't work. At all. It required too much exposition in the form of characters coming up to the main character with stuff like "so this happened to me..."

    Plus the scope of the story is large enough that it really needs the perspective of some of the other characters.
    That sounds more hopeful than finishing it and thinking, "It's awesome!" and not seeing what needs to be changed.
    So here I am, completely rewriting this book. From the ground up. I'm converting it to the third person (oh hey... look at my user name...). And in some ways, this feels almost harder than initially writing the book. This is way more than minor surgery. It's more like removing the brain from the patient and growing an entirely new body to put it in.
    From reading this I think you've got the stuff to do it. Good way with words.
    The hardest part is staying motivated. After all, I've already TOLD this story. So I keep having to set it aside so that I can come back to it and it feels fresh again. Which is part valid and part excuse.
    Over and over and over again which is why I have many dust-sheeted wreckages of early drafts sitting there, waiting for me to come back to them. I hear that not-quitting is the secret so don't quit. And read The War of Art...it's a good pep talk. (okay, actually it's a severe butt-kicking, I have to be honest)
    Anyone else been there? As in not just fixing some things here and there, but literally faced with rewriting almost every word?
    This is one of the reasons why I have really only improved at short work and not novels. It's pretty common to have more than one entire rewrite before the thing is ready to be rolled out with your name on it.
    We'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by InTheThirdPerson View Post
    I wrote my first novel.

    I am in the middle of writing my first novel.

    Yep, I realize the contradiction of those two statements. So here's the situation...

    Setting the way back machine to...well, quite some time ago... I had an idea. It bounced around in my head until it became a story, and then I wrote it. At first I was too busy being utterly astonished I had actually completed a novel (and a little burned out), so it just sat there for almost a year before I actually went back and read it.

    And it was terrible.

    I mean, the story wasn't terrible. At least I don't think so. Rather, how I wrote it was terrible. The way the story formed in my head was in the first person, so that's how I wrote it. However, for this story, I realized that just didn't work. At all. It required too much exposition in the form of characters coming up to the main character with stuff like "so this happened to me..."

    Plus the scope of the story is large enough that it really needs the perspective of some of the other characters.

    So here I am, completely rewriting this book. From the ground up. I'm converting it to the third person (oh hey... look at my user name...). And in some ways, this feels almost harder than initially writing the book. This is way more than minor surgery. It's more like removing the brain from the patient and growing an entirely new body to put it in.

    The hardest part is staying motivated. After all, I've already TOLD this story. So I keep having to set it aside so that I can come back to it and it feels fresh again. Which is part valid and part excuse.

    Anyone else been there? As in not just fixing some things here and there, but literally faced with rewriting almost every word?
    You know, when I wrote my first novel, I thought it was the best thing in the world. I was high off the accomplishment of completing such a massive undertaking. But over time, I got that feeling- like it could be improved upon. I would read tips on writing where the majority of them stated in some form or another that 'the beauty is in the rewrite', and even then, three books in, I ignored the advice believing I could re-invent the wheel. But after 8 books, I finally decided to rewrite my first book. What was originally 54k words-- ballooned to 110k words, full of depth, new descriptions, better ways of expressing things, and added dialogue that was necessary for some scenes. It transformed my book into something much more, and even I was surprised myself at how much was I able to add, believing I was only capable of writing no more than 60k.


    I would say, 85% of that first novel was re-written with new prose, with only the dialogue being the majority kept. After I re-wrote that book, I re-wrote the sequel, and if I had not published the last three books you see in my signature, I would have re-wrote them as well. I intend to rewrite all my books, and currently, I am re-writing another book from scratch.

    . I personally think the rewrites are much easier, since you have all raw data out of your head. So those tips are true. The first draft is exactly that and some advice for your next project, if you make it through this one: Don't put too much heart into the first draft. Just get all the raw data out that is necessary, because the masterpiece is in the rewrite. The rewrite is like the painter adding the trees, and the shimmering reflection on the waters. The first draft is the underpainting. Look a a painter and see how he feels about an underpainting. not much is put into it. It is important, but it is done in a very relaxed manner, only to set the stage.. it is only when he begins to put on the layers that the painting truly comes together.

    The same can be applied to writing. That first draft is your underpainting, and the rewrite is you adding all those little layers, shadows, and reflections until you have a work of beauty.
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  6. #16
    Everyone also talks about rewriting like it's some entirely negative thing. Like it's a sign of failure.

    It's not true. If you love writing (as opposed to back-slaps and attaboys) then rewriting something to make it better shouldn't be a bad thing. Look at the positives: You get to spend more time with a story and characters you (hopefully) care about, you get to make the work fundamentally better, and the fact you are rewriting it at all says something about your ability, as a writer, to self-critique and see the problems with your work. These are all good things.

    I get that there is this whole issue of "oh god, this will never be finished" and that rewriting something more than a couple of times starts to become demoralizing, but none of that is a necessary outcome. If you are a new writer, you shouldn't be thinking in terms of 'start and finish' but in terms of constant improvement, the goal should not be to put stuff 'out there' in the first place. If you are not a new writer (let's go with Ralph's 200,000 word benchmark) and find yourself doing, say, more than three full rewrites of a book, you probably have issues beyond the story -- perhaps of indecisiveness, perhaps of not reading and actually being ready, perhaps just of lack of confidence. Either way, the starting over isn't itself the problem.

    A lot of the time I think if you have done more than a couple full-rewrites and are at the point where the issues that are compelling you to start over are somewhat circular, it may well be simply a matter of being a perfectionist, in which case you may want to address whether the issues you are 'seeing' in your work are actually real or simply a matter of expecting every single sentence to blow your mind, which isn't how most books work. Sometimes writing is just about telling the story, about simply putting words together in a competent narrative. Not every sentence needs to be, or frankly should be, an exercise in profound, jaw-dropping beauty. Try to take a holistic view to the work and, if you can't see the forest for the trees, that's what reader feedback is for.
    "If you don't like my peaches, don't shake my tree."

    "Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow."

    “Remember this: Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him. ”

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  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by InTheThirdPerson View Post
    When I'm referring to motivation, I'm not interchanging it with inspiration. I'm literally talking about forcing myself to not be lazy about the rewrite. But thanks.
    It's all a choice. You either want to be a writer or you don't. If you do, get your ass in a chair and be one. If not... well, do whatever you want to do. There are days that I'm not "motivated" to write. I still do it. Writing comes first. It is my priority. It doesn't get in the way of things I absolutely have to do like eating and sleeping and working and taking care of the family, but it comes ahead of pretty much everything else. I make that choice and I stick with it.

    What choice are you making?

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Cephus View Post
    It's all a choice. You either want to be a writer or you don't.
    As far as I'm concerned, there really isn't a "want to be" involved. There's no such thing as "aspiring" to be a writer. You either are or you aren't. (Being successful at it is an entirely different animal and really dependent upon what one considers "success.")

    What choice are you making?
    More often than not, writing other things instead of finishing this project. Which is a course I'm working on correcting, thus the point of my post.

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