Revision Revisited

“Half my life is an act of revision.” John Irving

Since rewriting is such a big issue for us as writers, some fuel for thought from other seasoned revisers might inspire us all:

“Books aren’t written—they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.” Michael Crichton

“I have rewritten—often several times—every word I have ever written. My pencils outlast their erasers.” Vladimir Nabokov

“[A first draft is] just for size. That draft isn’t any good; it isn’t supposed to be; the whole purpose is to sketch out propositions….I rarely have a very clear idea of where I’m going when I start. Just people and a situation. Then I fool around—writing and re-writing until stuff gels.” Robert Van Gelder

“Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don’t try to perfect as you go along, just get to the end of the damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back. If you try to polish every sentence there‘s a chance you’ll never get past the first chapter.” Iain Banks

“Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with the first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never getting published.” Richard North Patterson

“On the third or fourth draft, pencil in hand, I reread my text, by this point practically a fair copy, and eliminate whatever can be eliminated, whatever seems useless. Each deletion is a triumph. At the bottom of every page I write, ‘crossed our seven words,’ ‘crossed our ten words,’ as the case may be. It gives me great pleasure to get rid of whatever is futile.” Marguerite Yourcenar

“Don’t look back until you’ve written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in…the edit.” Will Self

“I rewrote the ending of ‘Farewell to Arms’ 39 times before I was satisfied.” Ernest Hemingway

“Accept imperfections,” “Sketch out propositions,” “fool around,” “get rid of whatever is futile”—we can do this! And now, emboldened and energized, let’s all write on!

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About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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