Depending on who you ask, the word “rewrite” brings different reactions. Fear. Excitement. Frustration. If you’ve spent weeks writing something, the thought of rewrites is going to send some sort of emotional spike through your brain.
For me, rewrites bring the excitement of a challenge. It’s anticipation. It’s waiting at the starting line, your feet on the blocks, waiting for the starting gun. But that’s because I don’t approach it as a disappointment. I don’t see rewriting as a sign that my first draft is a failure. It’s not. It’s potential.
In a way, writing is like a haircut.
Granted, I may just be making this connection because I just got a haircut (a pretty snazzy one too. I love it). You can view it as wood carving, or sculpting. But I’m running with this whole haircut thing.
Now, if you’re getting a drastic haircut like I did, chopping off a significant amount of hair, the first thing the hairdresser does is put it in a ponytail and roughly cut it off.
That’s your first draft. Technically speaking, it’s a haircut. I mean, the hair you wanted off is gone. But no one in their right mind is going to stop there. Your hair looks all weird and uneven and bristly. It’s a mess.
No hairdresser stops there (and if they did, you kind of have a problem). The hairdresser then dives back in and shapes it, evening out the edges, adding in layers, taking that rough chop to something sleek.
I don’t find editing and rewrites frustrating because I know that it doesn’t mean that the first draft is a failure. It’s just a mess, a rough chop.
And frankly, what first draft isn’t.
I know you don’t stop there. No hairdresser would, so no writer should either. You refine, you dive back in and go over the details. You work and you cut and you make it pretty.
Well, I’m about to dive into a round of rewrites. Let’s see if my opinion stays this rosy when I’m midway through.