Writing Takes Work

And titles are hard to come up with sometimes.

So, Rachael and I do this thing every year.  We’ve been doing it for three years, and we’ll probably keep doing it.  Every year, during the month of November, we each write a novel.

Yep, a novel.

This means that over the course of my life during the past three years, when I’ve gotten into conversations with people about books that they’d like to write, I can just say, “I wrote a couple books.”

You know, real casual-like.

Of course, I haven’t published any of my now three books.  I hadn’t even considered revising the first two.  They’re probably not good enough to be reworked into something publishable.  As for the third one, well, I don’t know.  I liked writing the story, and I strongly believe that if you have a desire to do something creative then you should do it, so I kept working on the book after November ended last year.  I hadn’t finished the first draft when time ran out, so I kept going until I did finish it two months later.

So I got to this point where I had a finished first draft, and I was feeling pretty good about it, so I said to Rachael, “I need to revise this.”

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rachael, by the way, has been steadily working on revising her own book since November, and she’s now in the process of doing her third revision.  I think her book is fantastic, and she has a way better chance of getting published than I do, mostly because she actually puts the time and effort into refining her work.  She’s been doing things like establishing a circle of friends with whom she shares her drafts in order to get feedback.  She looks at what her readers have to say, and she seriously considers every comment they make.  Rachael works on her writing.

Given that my wife has been actively fostering her own growth as a writer, I try to follow her example in working on writing.  I got myself a reader, who I’m grateful to for the time she puts into reading my stuff and letting me know what she thinks (thanks, Jan, you’re awesome), and I sit down with her critiques whenever I go to revise a section.

It’s a painful process.  I hate sitting in front of my computer with material that I’ve already written and trying to make it better.  I read over what my characters are doing, and there’s just a hump in my brain that I struggle to get over.

Part of it is the difficulty in going back and being able to let go of what I’ve already written.  I come to so many scenes, read through them, and think, “I have to change something about this?  But I like it the way it is!”  It’s maddening.

But I suppose that’s writing.  And the feeling that you get when you share your writing with someone and you see that they didn’t hate it, found it tolerable, maybe even enjoyed it?  That makes it worth the work.

If you’ve ever thought, “I want to write a book someday,” then you should take the plunge and just do it this November for National Novel Writing Month.  It’s a frantic event, since you’re constantly trying to put stuff on paper to reach the goal of 50000 words by month’s end.  If you’re a slow writer like me, that means devoting several hours a day just to getting 2000 words written, but it’s truly delightful work.

Have any of your ever written something and wanted to make it better despite the difficulties you foresaw in editing?

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One thought on “Writing Takes Work

  1. Jason, I am a slow writer too. I have never won a NaNoWriMo. I find rewriting painful too-and I do anything to avoid it. I have been meaning to sit down and revise the latest chapter of my novel. Your feedback was spot on, but I don’t know how to fix it–how to make it work–but I guess I have just have to get started and try to stretch my brain and see how i can improve it. And then it will happen. I have decided to try to do one chapter rewrite every 2 days, and then write a new one after a chapter rewrite. I have so many chapters to rewrite. Hopefully my novel will get done soon! I am starting RIGHT NOW! I think a motivator for me is to share rewrites. Thanks for the shout-out!

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