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Rewrite! Rewrite! Rewrite!

July 22, 2011

Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite is one of the many mantras I have picked up from other writers over the years.  During the past ten days, I have been finding out just how hard a task that is.  Having rewritten the first chapter of Obsidian Fields time and time again, I have finally settled on a version which I am happy with – for now.  There are so many ways to say the same thing.  It’s choosing the right words that counts.  As a poet, I appreciate the importance and weight given to every word in a line.  As a prose writer, the enormity of the task can be overwhelming.

As with any task, the secret is to break it down into small manageable chunks.  This is where the technique of setting targets comes in useful, as long as they are S.M.A.R.T of course i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Agreed, Relevant and Timebound.

When I started the M.A. project, time was a major concern.  Achieving 20,000 words in the space of two months seemed to me to be a big ask.  Having broken it down into a daily quota of one thousand, it doesn’t seem so daunting.  My current rate is about an hour per page to produce five pages of poetic prose per day.  I begin the next day by rereading and editing before continuing with the story.  This process is similar to the PERL-cycle: Planning, Executing, Reflecting and Learning but still a long way off from the challenge of writing a novel in a month, as some writers challenge themselves to do in November each year.

I have learned the importance of making time in the week for activities that are not writing related so as to approach the keyboard afresh each morning.  Not as easy as it sounds when writing is such a pleasure.  Nevertheless, one becomes stiff after hours in front of a computer screen, so I have taken up swimming  again in order to maintain a work/life balance.  The advantage of this physical exercise is that it begins with an ‘s’.  According to Julia Cameron, activities which begin with this letter are ways of ‘filling the well’.  In other words ‘artist dates.’

On Wednesday evening this week, I attended a reading by the Vane Women at Darlington Arts’ Centre.  One of their members read a story about a group of elderly people getting together to save their local swimming pool.  Each character was given a nickname appropriate to their swimming style. The story was a surreal delight.  I dread to think what  my name would be!  Judith, jellyfish – perhaps?


From → Creative Writing

  1. Mary permalink

    No matter how many times I edit a piece i still find mistakes. i bought a KIndle and I’m over the moon with it. I’ve never read so much in the last 6 weeks. But I’ve found many errors in books written by well known authors. So my conclusion is do your best but don’t worry if a few gets through

    • I know what you mean about editing, Mary. It helps to have someone else read over things as they often spot errors etc. that the author does not. Although I don’t have a kindle, I’ve been reading online via and have found e-books to be full of errors also.
      The difference I find with reading from a screen is that I read more slowly, taking more notice of the spelling and syntax.
      The problem I’ve found lately is that the downloads aren’t always available when I want to access them. Can’t beat a book in the hand!


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