Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group: holding on and letting go

Ah, my first post for the lovely and necessary group Alex made: The Insecure Writer's Group! Today, I wanted to discuss if it's ever clear when it's time to hold on or let go.
Anyone who has ever written a story knows that most of us are figuring things out as we go along, right? Before I had the blogging community, I only had Google. No, seriously. I typed "how to write a novel" into that dependable search bar. Once I completed my first project, I sent all of it to an agent. She enjoyed it but thought it needed a rewrite. 
A rewrite? That's my work! That's my time! That's my effort! 
Instead of taking advice from those who knew a lot more than me, I struggled with clutching my words. The weird part? I knew that the agent was right. I did need a rewrite. I did need a fresher take on my themes. There were certain lessons I only grasped with time.

1.) You can rewrite an entire story and still keep the themes that made you write it in the first place
2.) Starting over can be difficult but is sometimes the only way to make a stronger piece
3.) Knowing when to hold on and when to let go is a case by case decision. There's no clear cut answer and there never will be. 

Of course, when everyone in my life asked how my writing was going and I told them I was starting over, they scoffed, as though I had been twiddling my thumbs the entire time. That, I realized, is where to let go. Let go of the doubts from others, from yourself. Let go of any white noise that comes in the way of your goal. 


  1. Excellent advice! I rewrote my entire first story from scratch and it became my first published novel. Glad I rewrote it.

  2. The trick is to not go to your friends and family with your writing. Save that for other writers who been there and done that. Only experienced writers truly know what woks and what doesn't. And tough critique partners are a writers very best friend.

    I'm a new follower via the IWSG. Welcome to the group!

    #46 on the IWSG list

  3. Hi :)

    Just popping by from the IWSG.

    Wow, good for you! I gave up on 65,000 words because I couldn't face the rewrite lol

    Good luck honey xx

  4. Today is my first post for IWSG too. It's good to see that you are tackling this with a positive attitude. It will pay off in the end

  5. My first day too, and yet it's been around an entire year. Just goes to show how much I 'troll'? I think that's the right term, just learned it this week. Gosh, am I behind or what.

    Anyway, letting go -- ahh, I remember that lesson, and it still something I struggle with, love the sound of my own words as they trip off my tongue -- no just kidding. It's usually when I read them aloud that I nix them. In my head they sound great -- hitting the air -- pretty damn silly sometimes and just bad others. If it was meant to be funny, but usually not.

    I still have my very first manuscript printed out on one of those continuous feed printers, it's in a three ring binder and fading fast, but it is the worst thing I've ever written and the inspiration for everything I now write!

    Love the post!

  6. I think people who are around serious writers KNOW about rewrites. Possibly because we complain to our friends, coworkers, and anyone who is in earshot. LOL

    Good post!

  7. Good advice! I am beginning a rewrite myself. And even if it's bad, first drafts still are good practice and help you write the next one better.

    Allison (Geek Banter)

  8. Other artists understand this...if they've matured far enough in their art. But most people don't. And oh yes I remember the days when I declared "I will never rewrite this for anyone! This is my baby!"

    Now scoffing at myself!

  9. #1 is so true! (But it's so difficult to see this at the beginning!)

    I agree with you that some writing decisions are "case by case," which can be both good and bad. Good because it's so subjective that writers will always have a chance to find someone who likes and gets their work (as opposed to one "no" means no for all). But bad because it's sometimes hard to determine objectively what's not working.

    The way I see it, writing is a process that needs to be learned. Outsiders don't realize this. They think all you have to do is sit down and write enough words and one day you'll be published. But writing is like so many other careers where you have to go thru the years of learning. You can't perform surgery if you're in your first year of medical school right?