To Explain Yet Another Reason Why Rewriting Is Silly…
Say your goal is to walk across the United States. About 2,800 miles.
So say your writing career (in a modern world) lasts over forty years like mine and gets you 280 books written. Got to make the numbers round for this metaphor. (grin)
So every 100 miles is a novel in your hike across the United States.
So you set off walking on your novel career and get to the end of your first hundred miles of walking. Nifty. You have completed a novel.
Along the way you have seen some beautiful country, met some people, had some adventures, got stressed some, and learned a lot. Ahead of you is more adventures, more characters, more beautiful country and fun in the next 100 miles (next book).
But you are a rewriter, a person who thinks going over something again will make it better for some reason or another. So you go back to your starting point and walk the same 100 miles again. Same track, same people, same scenery, thinking you are making the journey better.
But you (rewriter) still didn’t do that 100 miles perfectly because of some misplaced belief system taught to you by someone who has never left their own front yard, so you go back and walk the same hundred miles again.
And then a fourth time, same track, same everything. That walk of 100 miles is now dull and boring, with no adventures, nothing new, just dullness and sameness that you are adding in as you go.
You have actually walked 400 miles in distance and in time, but only covered 100 miles. You only have one thing done, and you have made that one thing dull and boring.
What is worse is that you have learned nothing more by the three extra times over the same track. But you have spent a lot of time at the effort because you believed you needed to do that before you could go to the next 100 miles.
Now, if you didn’t rewrite, just finished the first 100 miles and released the adventure of that trip, and kept walking FORWARD, you would learn new things in the second hundred miles, meet new people, have new adventures, and it would be fun.
Same for the next 100 miles after that going FORWARD, and the next. In the same amount of time a rewriter spent making an adventure dull and boring, the non-rewriter has covered four times the amount of distance, learned a lot more, and had more fun.
And who wins in the writing journey? The writer with four exciting released novels or the writer with one dull released novel? Hmmm?
Silly metaphor I must admit, but sometimes it takes something silly like this to show how really fruitless and silly rewriting is.
And how destructive.
You can stop rewriting. Honest, it doesn’t take any special medicine or lobotomy.
But it does take two things. You must first stop writing sloppy and instead care to do the best you can with what you are writing. And secondly, you must believe in yourself and your own storytelling ability. In other words, grow an artist backbone.
Just keep on walking.
The adventure really is ahead of you. Don’t waste a moment turning around and moving backward. Life is far, far too short.
And the walk ahead far too much fun to never reach.