Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another Word for Writing: REWRITING

One of the things that I am discovering is that the more I write, the more I have to REwrite. I love this quote from Donald Murray, I think he perfectly encapsulates why we have to rewrite: to make our ideas and thoughts clear to other people. Sometimes I wish that I just had some sort of magical recorder in my head that could translate my book ideas into words on my computer automatically. But alas, I do not. And I have to write them myself. And therefore I have to rewrite. Constantly.

One of my favorite writing quotes is from Stephen King. He said to "write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." Sometimes this is harder than it seems and sometimes I get it backwards -- I tend to want to write with the door open, to try to take into consideration what everyone thinks or feels about what I'm writing, etc. But this doesn't really work and what I end up writing is convoluted and not quite "me". Other times, when it's time for rewrites, I don't want anyone to read my (horrendous) first draft and I end up not getting any outside perspectives. Both of these tendencies are a mistake.

First of all, I have to be willing to let go of my need to impress others with my writing. Guy Kawasaki said, "Authors who write to impress people have difficulty remaining true to themselves." My goal in my writing is to write for ME, not for my potential audience or my friends or my professors or anyone else. If I do not write for the love of it, I will lose myself in the worst possible way.

My second tragic tendency is to not want to get input from people, for fear that I will fail ("fail" being an ambiguous term in my mind). While it is important to not allow myself to become a sort of writer that just wants to please everyone, it's also important to get input. Anne Rice has said that "to write something you have to be willing to make a fool of yourself." And part of making a fool of myself is being willing to allow others to read what I have written, regardless of my fears or insecurities.

Recently, I gave my husband about 50 pages of my manuscript when he went on a long plane trip. On the way back, he gave it to my father-in-law to read. I was mortified. I wasn't ready for someone other than my husband to read my manuscript. But my father-in-law gave me such great feedback -- no, it wasn't all positive, but it was constructive and he has made my manuscript better because of it. This situation taught me that I need to let myself open up to other people's criticisms. Sure, I don't have to listen to ALL of their criticisms, but it is a helpful practice that I think will push me to be a better writer.

For all of the writers out there, what is your "rewriting" practice? Do you let only certain people read your rough drafts or are you pretty free with your work?

I'll end with one last quote:

I think this is true for everyone -- regardless of whether you are striving to live a "creative life" or not. I am making every effort to be less afraid of being wrong and more excited about living my life to the fullest.

For those interested, here's my Pinterest board filled with writing quotes:

Cheers :)