Why I Love Rewriting

My last post may have given the impression that I am not a fan of rewriting. So not true! I loves it.

For me the first draft is the least fun because I’m never quite sure I have a novel until there’s a complete draft. The Sekrit Project is the first solo novel I’ve finished since 2008 so finishing this year was a HUGE RELIEF. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would. If I knew how to write novels anymore. That made the first draft—even the most fun times of writing it—stressful.

So no matter how unfun some parts of the rewriting process are I have none of that anxiety: because I have a manuscript. I mean, yes, it’s a less than optimal manuscript but I now know I’m going to finish and make it the best book I can. I will figure out how to make it better.

I really enjoy taking shitty sentences and engoodening them, tweaking character’s arcs until they make sense to people other than me. It’s very satisfying. And when I get stuck on one bit of the book there are countless other bits to fix.

I also LOVE finally being able to talk about the book with other people. Other than Scott, I mostly don’t show people my books until I have a complete draft. So it’s just me and the book. Getting other people’s takes on it is so important. I can only go so far on my own. Other people frequently show me in about ten seconds what I’ve been blind to for months. Gah! But also: AWESOME.1

I also enjoy how hard rewriting is. Keeping track of a complete novel is keeping track of an entire world and its people. I love that feeling of total immersion. I love the power of life and death! I can KILL YOU ALL! *cough* I love pushing myself to the limits of my ability.

Sekrit Project is the most challenging book I’ve written so far.2 It required an enormous amount of research. The plotting is much trickier than any other book. Several of the characters push me WAY outside my comfort zone. I love it! So exhilarating and fun.

Yes, even when I have several weeks of not being able to figure out how to fix some of the structural problems. But that too is part of the challenge and there’s nothing more enjoyable than managing something you didn’t think you’d be able to. Am I right?

In conclusion: Writing is hard but that’s a really, really, really good thing.

  1. That’s what I was attempting to say yesterday: first readers are worth their weight in gold. []
  2. Other than the still-unfinished 1930s New York novel. []


  1. Kate Elliott on #

    When I was new at the writing game, I found rewriting horrendously difficult and I dreaded it. Now it is my favorite part of the process precisely because it is so challenging in a way that really makes me work hard but which gives me a clear improved result.

    Then again, I find challenges fun in general. That higher mountain to climb, if you will.

  2. Justine on #

    Kate Elliott: Yes! That’s exactly how it was for me. I used to loathe rewriting. And, yes, now adore it.

    I do enjoy a challenge. It’s why I’m learning to box. We are as one, Kate!

  3. Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little on #

    Justine: Yes! That’s exactly how it was for me. I used to loathe rewriting. And, yes, now adore it.

    Oh, thank goodness. Currently I really love rough drafts (exploration! Adventure! Play! No pressure to get it right!) and dread-and-loathe rewriting. You give me hope that one can change from a rewriting-hater to a rewriting-lover. I would like that.

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