Rewriting is writing

Writing is rewriting

I’ve heard this a thousand times, I’m sure you have as well, but I never understood it until recently. Oh, on an intellectual level I understood what it meant alright, but in practice? Not so much.

I tried to write every day, but to me the only thing that counted as writing was the first draft, so that’s what I focused on. I wrote first draft content every day and the rewriting got crammed in around the edges. I never got much out of it and it felt like I was taking time away from “real” writing.

Part of that is because a lot of writers talk about a daily word count for writing. I never found a good way to measure words rewritten. I mean, what are you supposed to do? Count the words you start with? Count the words you remove? Count the words you fix the spelling of? It didn’t work for me until I started to look at time spent writing instead.

I’m well aware that this is an arbitrary distinction, but it’s one that has helped me a lot. I don’t have time to write in the morning and rewrite in the afternoon and it’s better if I work on one story at a time. Now that rewriting feels like writing, I don’t neglect it. I also don’t worry whether I will be able to start writing again if I take time away from working on first drafts.

My hope is that this leads to better stories. I already know it makes writing them more enjoyable and I never thought I would say that about rewriting.

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