I thought about this earlier, and I just wanted to share my thoughts on it, especially since it is something I’ve considered in the past.
A few hours ago I was sketching, and I realised I needed to start all over. This was infuriating because I’d already invested a lot of time in the current sketch. It was a sketch I’d attempted – and failed – previously, so my thoughts in regards to starting over were nebulous to say the least. However, I decided to go through with it, and in the end I had a much better final product.
Rewrites are like this. They are a massive pain. When you’ve spent hours upon hours crafting a manuscript, the realisation that there’s nothing left to do but rewrite is horrifying. It makes you want to give it all up, to leave the unfinished project where it is and not return. It’s adding more work to a piece which seems never-ending, and that’s tough.
Despite this, I do think rewrites can be necessary and they are beneficial. If it’s gotten to the point where mere editing cannot fix your novel, then there is a clear problem. Even when sometimes it’s hard to distinguish the exact cause of that problem, I think rewrites allow you to rediscover the plot and really deeply examine your novel in a way you might not have done before. It gets to the crux of the matter and allows you to categorically say: this is not working.
Ultimately, it makes you a better writer, a better editor, and even if it is infuriating, it can actually ignite your passion. If you didn’t feel passionate about your novel, you probably wouldn’t have resorted to a rewrite in the first place.
Although it doesn’t seem like it, a lot of authors have undergone this very same feeling. Maggie Stiefvater, Kristin Cashore and Natalie Whipple (soon to be published!) to name a few. Rewrites can play a big part in the process, and they are more common than you’d think.
So the next time you’re in this situation, take a step back, breathe, and consider what is truly best for your novel. If you believe that is a rewrite, then by all means go for it. The rewrite may be tough, but I think that in the end, like karma, you’ll be rewarded for the extra effort.
Have you ever had to rewrite? If not, do you think you could if it came down to the choice of rewriting or giving up?