Help With Rewriting

  There’s no great writing, only great rewriting.

  Depending on your perspective, that’s either, an adage, proverb, truth or cliché.

  Or maybe it’s just an ugly fact of writing. 

When I started writing for newspapers some 20 years ago, I’d routinely spend hours on a column, then put it away late at night, thinking it just needed a few adjustments here and there.

  Then I woke up the next day, reread the copy and think, ‘Who broke into my computer and destroyed my near masterpiece?’

  I’d spend several more hours redoing the column.

  I finally recognized that rewriting was part of the process. 

  So that’s step one, recognizing that rewriting is part of the process.

  Step two, after rewriting, take some time off.  That may involve a few hours, possibly a day or two if that’s possible.  If you are on deadline, you may have to limit it, but returning after just a few minutes away can change your perspective.  You might be amazed at how much you can improve on what, just a short time earlier, read as an almost completed work.  Many times, that will do it for you.

  Step three, if you’re still struggling to reach the finish line, ask a fellow writer who is familiar with your work.  If you continue with self-evaluating, you risk tiring of heavy rewrites, and sacrificing a scene or a chapter, ‘just to get this one done.’  It’s a common trap, and doing that cheats the reader and yourself. 

That brings us to step four, certainly an option, not one you’ll need often, but possibly necessary to get through a rough spot or two.  Hire a professional editor. 

I know of one successful writer who did that after running into some difficult sections.   The writer said she only used one occasionally, and not for the whole book.  But the effort produced results.  The author said, “My editor never gave me bad advice.”

 

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