Writers Beware! Do Not Rewrite Until You First Revise

Full Confession: I cheated! A major revision tip I stress to writers: Do NOT begin to rewrite until you first revise. I broke my own rule (though as we all know, there are no rules to writing). I began rewriting before even progressing beyond Day Two of Revise Your Novel in a Month. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Just as going back and rewriting during any draft slows the process, revision comes to a grinding halt if you begin rewriting too soon. So, writers beware! Do not rewrite until you first revise.

One Giant Mess

Following Day One of Revise Your Novel in a Month, like you, I printed a hard copy of my manuscript. In organizing all the notes I’d accumulated while writing the first, down and dirty draft, I became overwhelmed by the additional scenes and ideas. Cut and pasted scraps of paper in the appropriate location. Scribbled notes. Entire scenes. All of it made for one giant mess.  

Day Two Exercise

Still, I persevered to Day Two exercise. Coming up with a concept statement for The Avenue proved extremely helpful. But, when I came to Day Three exercise to identify character traits in the first quarter of the novel, the chaos on the pages made the exercise nearly impossible. So… to gain clarity, I decided to clean up the beginning portion of the manuscript. I convinced myself I could do two things at once. Clean up the manuscript as I move through the revision steps. Wrong! Yes, I’m having a ball rewriting and rewriting and rewriting the first scene and then the second — sound familiar? But, that’s all I’m doing. No in-depth revising. Just slowly writing forward. One step forward and four steps back. Drat! In the end, I’m still going to have to go through all the revision steps. Especially if I want to reach the depth that a full revision affords, which I do.

First Revise

So, if you joined me in revising your novel as I invited you to and wonder where I’ve been, now you know. Having rewritten a total of three chapters in… oh, I don’t even want to think about how much time I’ve spent! I’m ready to buck up and get back to the business of first revising and then rewriting. I truly hope you’ve had more success than I have. Yes, writers write. We also revise. The process of standing back from all the words to view the bigger picture of your story is extremely valuable. Moving through the 30 plot and design, concept and scene, characters and theme exercises gives you a completely new understanding of the full glory of your story.

Don’t give up on me. Together we’ll take our stories apart, analyze what we’ve written, brainstorm and revise. Then and only then, we’ll put our novels back together for more depth and added meaning in the major rewrite that follows. 

Onward! #TodayIRevise!