By Eris Marriott
As a writer, you’ve probably come across the point in your creative process where you realize one of the following things, if not something similar:
At this point, you’re probably thinking:
“What was I thinking? I’m going to have to start over!”
Before you come to this as your sole conclusion, ask yourself if you can salvage what you have before scrapping. How extensive is the task of self-editing based on the conclusions you’ve come to? Now, don’t make those decisions right away. Wallow in the frustration—take a break. You make poor decisions when you’re upset with something that is like an imaginary child. It hurts when you come to these conclusions and there’s no sense in denying it. However, just ensure that it’s not extreme self-doubt, frustration from trying to edit too early, or something else.
If it’s not and you really are one of the proverbial pickles mentioned above, stop and think carefully about what that means. Some walk away with a negative association with a conclusion. You think, “I’ll never be a good writer.”
I daresay, if you acknowledge one of those three points or something to the effect of those three, you are a good writer. If you’re finding mistakes you never knew you were making and you know that they have to be fixed in a revamp, then isn’t that evidence to state that you’ve become a better writer? That you’re growing, learning, and have the skills to make something even better than when you first started?
Many writers go through tens of rewrites before they have something they’re ready to put out for publication, whether they go via self-publication or traditional publication. Just think: you’re already in good company if you’re like other writers in the way you approach the process. You acknowledge, “This is no longer my best; I know I can do this story more justice.”
Now, don’t rewrite yourself into oblivion, but if it takes you a few tries to get the book right, then go for it! Each draft is, essentially, starting over. You’re back to draft zero or one or whatever you want to call that first hodgepodge of thoughts. Maybe make a draft zero where you’re just outlining and rebuilding character arcs. Maybe make that draft zero something that every “pantser” knows and understands to be your barfed up beauty. And that’s okay!
Embrace the process! Embrace the fact that you’re going to want to start over. It just means you’re dedicated to producing something beautiful, rather than something you can never find pride in. If you’re at the point where you think nothing you do is good, now is not the time to try writing it again. Let yourself get past the self-doubt. If you’re at the point of self-deprecation where nothing seems good, maybe it’s time to talk to someone about it so you can move forward, as there is a point where you have to acknowledge that your work is done.
Even still, every writer knows there will be a point where they’re not happy with their old works anymore. But the reason why you’re not happy is something to rejoice in: you’ve gotten better and more defined in your style and prose. And that’s a wonderful thing to understand.
So write away and rewrite until the words on your page sing. Eventually, something will stick and you can finally start looking at getting your work out there and sharing with others. Don’t be afraid of starting over. Sometimes, the lessons we learn the first time serve to be invaluable in our second, third, and so on attempts. Without them, we would never become the great writers we stand to be by moving forward.
Connect with Eris-
Tiffany Heiser is the owner of Tiffany Heiser Graphics & Fyre and Brimestone Publishing. She is a self-taught graphic artist, an author, publisher, & a loving mom.