My writing hit a bit of a stumbling block recently as I paused the work on my current manuscript. Why did I do this? Because I needed to re-write it.
I’m still a novice writer, I’ve only one finished book under my belt and I’m not going to pretend that’s ready for publication, so even the concept or re-writing all those words that I’d headbutted onto the page was a little daunting. Keeping with a rough wordcount goal of about 100,000 words I’d done almost 20% of the work to reach that goal.
So for about a week or so every time I opened my word processor and looked at the amount of words that I’d already done, or the blank page of a new document that should become the rewrite’s home, I would groan and bury my head in the sand by pretending I hadn’t opened the document and go and do something else much less productive.
But the reason that I needed to rewrite was that the image of the character in my head shifted and something clicked.
Whilst I was writing that first (actually second but let’s ignore that) twenty percent I never felt like the main character was popping off the page and he was also being dragged along by the plot without doing too much to help it along with his own actions. I also realised that this blurry image of the character that I had in my head was getting further and further away from that initial idea spark that had me so excited about the story in the first place.
My original idea is for a demon that just wants to be a baker.
A nice, simple idea that I really like and think has a lot of potential. But when I was writing that (second) first draft the character was a bit flat and going along with the flow. He was basically a twig in the river of the story and every time I tried to bring up the baking aspect of things it was just like fighting against the flow of the river. And if a twig starts fighting the river it’s; A) going to go really badly for the twig; and B) looks really unnatural.
Not only did this mean that I was struggling to crowbar in the parts of the story that sparked the idea it also meant that I was approaching my manuscript with dread as went to write another section that I knew would not be the story I wanted to tell.
But a few days ago I bit the bullet, jumped off the chasm and ‘scrapped’ my previous draft to start all over again.
It felt great, I’m making progress again and creeping that progress bar up. And it’s easy to forget that you don’t have to scrap old writing (hence the inverted commas) you can just put the writing to one side and chop up any bits you like to reuse them again in the next draft.
Now it’s a long way coming but this small lesson has taught me just to get on and do the writing rather than umming and erring over how painful it might be to delete something and start again. No-one said writing would be easy!
Onward, to the end of the draft!