Writing, Rewriting and Rewriting Some More

Here’s the secret about writing (drum roll), it’s all about the rewriting and reading and then the re-re-rewriting. TIME is a big ingredient in the creative recipe.

In his book about writing ‘On Writing’ Stephen King describes leaving manuscripts in a drawer for six months before going back to them. I think most writers have a variation on that theme. Maybe it’s not six entire months, but there are natural breaks that enable you to get distance. These breaks are an essential part of writing. A little time in cold storage goes a long way!

I’m in the process of reworking ‘Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet,’ with the goal of e-publishing it by the end of June. As the story takes place during a typically hot and sticky July in New York, I want it available to readers by July1. The hot and sticky season in New York is a good time to kick back with a cool drink and a distracting story. Getting it done on schedule is a big challenge.

The book started a long time ago in another incarnation and with another title. It’s tighter and, I think, much funnier, with more allusions to the literary inspirations that got me started on this path in the first place. I’ve also learned that taking breaks from the process of rewriting the novella is important. What do I do during these breaks? WRITE.

I’ve been writing short stories. I’ve found that while delving into the next Monster novella is too distracting, short tales take me out of my ‘Bram Stoker’ space and enhance the process. I’ve always written short stories, but this is the first time I’ve craved writing them as a way to travel from my primary project. It’s like taking a trip and returning home, renewed and ready to work. Maybe it can be compared to runners who swim for a few weeks. You’re still exercising your muscles, but in a different way.

I’m curious about the positive distractions of other writers. Any thoughts you’d like to share?


  1. I never really took a break from writing, even though I’m now on the eighth version.of my first novel. What I did was attend writers’ conferences where workshops and critiques by professionals told me I had much work to do. I then joined a local writers’ group and got some tough love feedback. Finally, when I thought my seventh draft was good, I found an editor on LinkedIn, a great lady who is smoothing out the rough edges. Taking a break is useful, but getting training and feedback from published authors is also necessary, at least for new authors.

    • Candy

      Thanks so much for your insightful comments. I never take a break from writing — just breaks from specific projects. Feedback is, as you say, another essential piece of the process. I just joined a writer’s group. It’s the first one since college and that was a long, long time ago. So far, so good. I also have a wonderful agent who gives me amazing input and a few friends with the eyes of critical readers.

      Best of luck with your novel! Keep me posted on the next steps.

    • Candy

      Absolutely! I continue to study the storytellers I most admire and learn from how they structure plots, create characters, write dialog, etc. In recent years, I’ve also started to study books I dislike. This seems counterintuitive, but I’ve gotten some insights into mistakes I was making in my own work, when I recognized the same problems in the writing of others. I’d never recommend intentionally reading something you dislike, but when I find myself disenchanted with a book, I start asking why? It’s enlightening.

      Thanks so much for bringing this up. It’s absolutely essential. Writers must be intelligent, active and thoughtful readers. Not passive sponges but real critical readers.

  2. Thanks for reminding us about the need for rewriting and more rewriting. I like to take reading breaks, which for me, gets my mind off of the current project and also lets me see how other writers are doing things.

    • Candy

      Yeah… those reading breaks are like refueling the jet in mid-air!

      Rewriting is the slog, but it’s the important slog.

      I’m going back to slogging later today. I’m trying to release the second in my series by the end of June. It’s a challenge, but in the end it’s worthwhile.

      • Ok so you write ,rewrite, edit, rewrite,edit, have a professional edit. Now the secret I am lacking is the book is done…NOW WHAT?

        • Oh and the book is published and available on Amazon Barns and Noble and on Kindle for $2.95 But being unknown author it is a tough sell.. Oh well, Keep the faith, I guess.

          • Candy

            The marketing and promoting stage — oh, the horror of it, the terror, the empty feeling of….
            Yep, you are right on track for the problem phase. I’m trying to drum up readers for The Mary Shelley Game and the second one, Bram Stoker’s Summer Sublet, is on its way. Will anyone read them? I certainly hope so. Being and unknown is really tough! But I keep on trucking, so I hope you will, too.

  3. This is a very timely post for me 🙂 Having just finished the first draft [-ish] of the second book I did try to set it aside for a while. I managed a week. That’s because I have a one-track mind and can’t seem to switch /on/ to something else without completely switching /off/ to my main project.

    So for one week I’ve been working on blogs and on reading other people’s blogs. I’ve also been reading more than usual which is something I love to be able to do. And I did cheat a little – I spent some time working out how to convert The Book to kindle format so I could read it through without the temptation of trying to edit as I read. [mea culpa].
    When the week was up I let myself start reading The Book. So far I have been pleasantly surprised. I have had some moments of shock though, especially when I discovered stupid little typos on pages which had already been re-re-re-read and should have been close to ‘perfect’. -sigh- there is no substitute for a professional editor and that’s the truth.
    Glad the sub-let is coming along on schedule 🙂 Of course I’m going to have to imagine the steamy heat because by then I’m going to be freezing in the middle of a Melbourne winter 😀

    • Candy

      Maybe you’re like me and the only way I can set my current project aside is to work on another one. It’s a recipe for a multiple project balancing act, but it helps me hold off working on something long enough for it to ‘ripen.’ Anyway… blog, read, whatever it takes, but if you pull away for a little while, you’ll find it easier to be objective in the next draft.

      As for imagining the steamy heat… I’ve never been to Australia, but I’ve been to Argentina and those opposite seasons really change your world view. Hot New Year’s Eve, my January birthday in high summer,chilly mother’s day in May, etc. turns your head around. I remember the astonished cab driver taking me to JFK airport in July. He could not believe I was carrying a winter coat.