If you’ve stopped by this blog before, you most likely know that I am rewriting Archangel. The words “rewriting Archangel” are pretty much committed to muscle memory by now. In fact, I didn’t even consciously type them that last time.
So it’s been a big part of my life lately and something I have spent a lot of time on. With that massive time commitment has come a lot of lessons about writing. Nearly an unending supply of lessons that makes you question your own sanity. But I thought I would take this blog to relay five of those lessons to you.
1. Your first draft is going to suck.
Be happy once you have finished your first draft and be proud of yourself. You have done something absolutely amazing and you should be happy. But you should come to terms sooner rather than later that it is called a first draft for a reason. You will be making changes to it, and that takes a lot of time and energy.
2. Listen to Others.
Those others might be your beta readers, your critique partner, an editor, or your mother. Regardless of who it is, get your first draft in front of many sets of eyes as you think will get some good feedback. You are in love with your first draft and might not see where some pretty glaring flaws or missteps are. Seek their feedback and see how you can incorporate it into your next draft. And there is one big piece of feedback you aren’t going to like:
3. Be Prepared to Kill Your Darlings.
This might be the hardest piece of feedback you will receive. You will have to cut out some things. Don't alter them, Don't polish them; get in there with your literary scalpel and cut them out.
I have had to kill a lot of my darlings in Archangel. Tens of thousands of words are being removed. But take heart in knowing that they aren’t gone forever. A lot of those storylines and characters can be saved for sequels, partnered short stories or novellas, and maybe even separate ideas entirely.
4. Learn your strengths and weaknesses.
When you were caught up in the moment or the high of just finishing your novel, you might not have known what your strengths and weaknesses are. As you are going through your rewrite, you and the extra eyes you brought in will make note of what you rock at and where you can still grow. Make note of all of these! That way you know where you can write killer prose and where you should focus when rewriting this novel and writing the next!
5. Enjoy it.
This is the most important lesson but can also be the most difficult. You love writing, that much is obvious. Even through all the pain of taking criticism and killing your darlings, you still have to see the joy in it. You not only get to write more (awesome), but you will take your precious piece of work and make it even better. You will turn your favourite piece of coal into a shining diamond.
It will be tough and you will want to procrastinate and avoid it. But realize that you are doing what you love! You are working towards your dream. Be happy about it!
The rewrite process can be difficult. It can really make you question whether you even want to be a writer. Trust me, I am still having those dismal thoughts. But rewriting your novel is invaluable not just for the incredible final product that you create, but for how much you learn through the process.
Stick with it, be brave, and tackle this rewriting thing with me!
Let me know how your rewrite is going in the comments below. If you have rewritten a novel before, tell me some of the lessons that you have learned. And swing back by on Thursday for another blog. See you then!