Writing and rewriting are two sides of the same coin but each takes a different kind of mindset to accomplish. Most folks think of writing when they imagine what writers do; scribbling creative characters, scenes; oozing creativity onto the page into the wee hours of the night. Beginning writers dive into this effort head first and hammer away. I love the thrill of creating something new, fresh, and personal, the joyful, exciting tension beneath the surface of my skin as I race like a bobsled through my imagination. For most, writing’s the easy part.
Rewriting consists of reading and rereading your work, scanning for errors, incongruities, and plot holes; all with the dream of creating the perfect manuscript. Sounds a bit like homework? Seems a lot like having to clean up the dishes after someone’s made a gourmet meal? I’ve felt that way too at first.
But anyone who’s built something of their own design (carpentry, home design, construction, gardening, automotive) knows the difference between getting all the pieces in place and the adjustments and detail work necessary to step back and enjoy the beauty of the finished product.
The Taijitu displays the yin and yang much like writing should be in its most efficient form, separate but connected. Ideally, creativity flows like a river, downhill, gaining momentum, building upon itself. I made ‘editing as I go’ mistake with my first novel, which took three years to complete. I wasted hours smoothing out details of scenes never seen in the finished manuscript. The second novel took half as much time since I was able to look at it from beginning to end, eliminate or add creative elements as necessary, and then begin to refine what remained.
I’m experimenting with today’s blog with a technique I hope will keep my inner editor from creeping in. Rather than wearing my reading glasses and watching each word as it appeared on the screen, I’ve left them off and stared elsewhere while my thoughts alone occupy my typing fingers.
A Star Trek episode, ‘The Enemy Within’ came to mind as I wrote this article. A transporter accident split Captain Kirk into two people, and while initially they appear as ‘good’ and ‘evil’, in the end we learn the value of our aggressive side and the weaknesses in our compassionate selves. Rewriting can seem like the boring, lame cousin of writing. But each must take their turn at the work for it to truly shine as art intended by the imagination.