Lost in a Rewrite… I Wish

I should be writing. I want to write. I have the desire to write. But I’m having a hard time forcing myself to write. And it really is ‘forcing’ myself to write. I find myself avoiding the work, doing everything but write. I get lost on the internet daily when I know there is work to do. Then, after hours of this, I get angry with myself for not working, not accomplishing ANYTHING!

It is SO frustrating. I’m stuck in this circle of avoidance and self-disgust. I’m the worst employee, I swear. It’s sad.

However, I am honest with myself and can analyze my own actions. I’ve done this sort of thing before for ‘other’ issues. It’s time to use some psychoanalysis on this issue.

I’m in the rewrite stage of my novel, and, to be perfectly honest, this is the first project I’ve ever taken this far. I usually get to a ‘Final’ draft that has been polished to the best of my abilities and call it complete. However, this time I am working with an editor. She is a personal friend, and I trust her opinions and experience.

A scene in need of raking.

She marked up my novel and was not kind about it. Kindness is not something you look for in an editor. They are meant to be mean, cut with broad strokes, and eviscerate our beloved words to produce a leaner, meaner, and more readable product.

Overall, I agree with most of her edits and suggestions. Yet, that doesn’t mean it isn’t painful or easy.

I need to rewrite a side character into a main character sidekick; she is essential to the story and needs to be more involved. To facilitate the fix, entire scenes need to not only be changed but COMPLETELY CUT! This is what my subconscious is balking at and why I am avoiding my work. Because I like those words, and I’m attached to those scenes. Hours and hours were spent writing and polishing them until they shone. How can I just DELETE them? But that is what I must do. 

All those beautiful words!!

I have read in a hundred different places that “writing is rewriting.” Yet, I could never fathom how true and incredibly hard it is. The sentence I struggled for days to get just right, to invoke the perfect emotion, the ideal atmosphere, now has to be sacrificed to strengthen the remaining words. Knowing how necessary the task is, doesn’t make it any less painful. Those are my words, my work, and it’s got to burn.

I know myself pretty well, and I tend to avoid the most difficult tasks, sometimes to the point where they get forgotten and are no longer necessary. Success! But… If I want to be a writer – a well-paid writer – I need to get past this particular hang-up and move the f*ck on and do the work.

Realizing the issue is often half the battle. Fixing or working around the issue is the other half. So, I’ve learned some psychological games I can use to ‘trick’ myself into doing something I don’t want to do.

Example: I used to hate eating my vegetables when I was little. I also knew my parents would make me eat them, so I forced myself to eat the vegs first and as fast as possible. That way, they were gone, and I could cover their yucky taste with the good stuff. I’m now in my fifties and love vegetables, but I still eat them first every time!

Question: What is the psychological trick I will use to avoid the pain of cutting all my beautiful words from the book?

Answer: I archived my highly polished turd of a final draft and started working on a new version as a NEW file. I deleted all the scenes that needed to go and most of the material that needed to be changed. Now I am essentially working with a clean slate. I’m no longer editing ‘that’ book; I’m working on a new book with someone else’s input. It may not be as good as the first or may fail to live up to our expectations. It doesn’t matter. The scenes and words I had such passion for but was unwilling to let go of are preserved. I can go reread them anytime I want.

Now I can get back to work with a clear conscience and a more compliant subconscious mind.

Writing is rewriting, and it sucks!!

Raked, bagged, deleted…
1 comment
  1. Ay yo that’s a danged good technique. I don’t like editing either, and to me, it feels as though I might constantly break something in the manuscript if I changed one little detail.

    But ‘starting fresh’ though? That’s amazing. Thanks for this post!

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