Writercraft: Rewriting—Is it worth it?

I don’t know about you1, but when I’m deep into one of my High Art moods—when I see writing as some sacred duty, and creativity as a curse I’d nevertheless still choose if offered the opportunity to be rid of it…

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Maybe I’m sitting alone in the dark after having been awake for two and half days straight at this point, it’s not important!

…I tend to get very useless at actually getting any writing done. I don’t want to edit, or have things make sense, or rewrite passages. I run with whatever whim takes me, and while sometimes I end up with some good solid ideas, I usually end up with a heap of crappy notes in my phone, that at the time I was convinced were pure genius.

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Every suspect was the killer! The cop was the killer! Every cop was the killer! It’s genius, I tell you!

Try as I might to remind myself, I always forget that writing is a Real JobTM. If I want to pay the bills with this someday, I have to treat it like a real job. I can’t wait for inspiration, or convince myself I’ll write better if I’m drunk, or wearing a robe, or if I don’t write today, but tomorrow I’ll write for twice as long.

It’s a lie, I know it’s a lie, and I still let myself get away with it sometimes! Ridiculous! So I’m trying to do better. I’m trying to stop pretending that art of any kind is anything but a messy, repetitive job, that sure—is satisfying at hell, but it’s not going to be some ‘vehicle for the muse’ fantasy style of writing where everything that flows from my fingertips is magical and perfect.

Rewriting is not the enemy! A piece wouldn’t be ‘better’ if I just started over, or wrote it from scratch, or abandoned it because this new idea is good. All the ideas are good! And all of them are bad! That’s where editing comes in. Granted, some are far worse than others2, but none of them will ever be good enough if I delete them, or shove them in a hidden shame folder on my computer for the crime of not being as perfect as their unformed replacements that are still in magical-amorphous-inspiration form in my head.

Writers write. I’ve got that part down now (I think). But good writers, professional writers, writers that want to make it? They rewrite, and edit, and finetune. And that’s far less fun, but I’m working on it.

I guess this post is more of a reminder to myself than any sort of generally useful information, but if there’s any other writers/creative types out there that also need the reminder that inspiration is good, but perseverance is better: this is it. Now go make something!

 

 

1 I don’t even know you. That’s the beauty of the internet!

2I once accidentally wrote a short story that implied a man was in love with an elephant. I will not explain how that happened, because I don’t know.

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