I took a poetry seminar with Barry Spacks when I was in University. At the end of the class, he gave each of us (we were a group of 6) a slim volume of poetry that he had inscribed. In mine he wrote that I understood that beauty requires hard labor.
Welcome to rewrites.
You know, those crazy things that happen in the midst of edits when there’s just this PESKY little 3 chapter interlude that DOES NOT WORK AT ALL?!
So, although it’s an art form I find hideously painful, here’s a brief summary of my approach to rewrites:
1. Set your novel on fire…no, wait, don’t do that. Walk AWAY from your work in progress for a set period of time. This can be an afternoon, a week, a month, whatever mental space you need to clear your thought process.
2. When you walk away, don’t dwell on the work in progress. In fact, devote yourself to a whole other project, preferably one in an entirely different genre or style. I like to write really nerdy spoofs that will never see the light of day.
3. Re-read. When you return, re-read. Question the motives of your characters, sketch the plotline of the novel with key events. Is the section that is driving you crazy necessary to the plot?
4. Don’t be afraid to scrap pages out of the book.
5. Don’t be afraid to start over. (This is not normally what I would advise on point 5, but sometimes starting over sparks some ideas in and of itself.)
6. Do not despair. This will pass.
7. Celebrate the completion of the rewrite. Whatever you find celebratory, go do that. Also, it doesn’t hurt to set mini-celebrations as you achieve specific goals during this part. This is the nitty-gritty part of writing that can feel a lot like slogging through mud.
8. Remember that inspiration isn’t passive, and that writing is a labor of love. You love this, otherwise you’d never allow all of these characters to occupy space in your head.
Happy writing, and Happy #Monday! Blessings to you all…