The 5 Stages of Rewriting Your Draft Novel #MondayBlogs #Writer #Comedy #TotalRewrite


In my opinion rewriting a draft novel is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do as a writer.

I have experienced many things as a writer and I have to say the total rewrite is not for the faint hearted. This task will mess with your head, it will give you sleepless nights and it will make you question your ability as a writer.

However, if you can somehow survive the draft novel rewrite, I guarantee it WILL put hairs on your book writing chest. *Sigh*

There are 5 stages to rewriting your draft novel:

  • The Whisper. A little voice, deep inside you, will one day whisper, ‘this isn’t working, think I need to do a total rewrite.’ This voice might have been triggered by beta reader feedback or it might have been a deadly thought you have been secretly harbouring for weeks, but not had the courage to admit to yourself. There is a reason why the voice starts off as a whisper. The mere thought of rewriting 80k words is enough to send any writer to an early grave, so Mother Nature (she is also a writer, her collection of short stories, titled ‘The Birds And The Bees’ were sadly never published) prepares us all by delivering the news via an inner whisper. She knows the heartbreak the word ‘rewrite’ can bring. Those writers who are in touch with themselves will pay attention, whilst those writers who struggle to listen to their intuition, will laugh the whisper off as their mind’s idea of a sick joke and increase their caffeine intake.
  • Denial. The little voice will keep repeating itself and eventually the whisper will turn into a full on scream. Accepting your beloved draft novel needs to be rewritten is not easy. Part of the acceptance process starts off with a period of denial. This will include MANY lengthy emails to writing friends recording the reasons why your draft does NOT need to be rewritten. For noting these reasons may or may not include, you don’t have time, you don’t have the energy, beta readers / editors are sometimes wrong, rewriting your story means your loved one was right about your novel needing to be set in the present day and not the Victorian era and your relationship / marriage works because you are never wrong, a total rewrite will include more research, all those quotes about the secret to good writing is rewriting are untrue, you might spend months rewriting it only to find the damn story still doesn’t work and a list (v short) of famous authors who wrote their bestseller in one draft. 
  • Acceptance. After many sleepless nights, several solitary walks in the rain, a few long days where you just tweet out your rewrite frustrations, more heart wrenching emails to writer friends, hours of reading writing craft books and some arguments with your loved one about how they stack the dishwasher / what days they take out the rubbish (all domestic arguments are basically fuelled by the idea of you having to rewrite your draft novel), you finally accept your draft novel needs to be rewritten. News of your acceptance will not be widely publicised. Fellow writers will give you a wide berth for a few months, as they know you could be heading for some dark literary times. If only there were Writer Greeting cards which we could all send each other with the message, ‘Good Luck With Your Rewrite – See You On The Other Side!’
  • Excuses, excuses, excuses. This stage is where you come up with many elaborate excuses for not cracking on with rewriting your novel. These may or may not include; you are washing your hair most writing evenings, you want to watch the paint dry in your newly decorated hall, you want to pay more attention to making sure you are always right at home and you’ve promised to spend more time hanging out with the cat at the bottom of the garden. This is also the stage where you will spend the most time on Twitter, have an extensive knowledge of your relatives Facebook updates, agree to see your loved one’s favourite war film and see the faces of all the fictonal characters you are going to have to delete, as part of the rewrite, in day to day life.
  • Living the total rewrite dream. Your previous draft is now a distant memory. You have finally found your writing groove again. Getting started on the rewrite took a few weeks of hair pulling and screaming into a cushion sessions but you somehow got through it. You have told yourself that the only way to find out whether the damn story works is to rewrite it and you have given yourself reassurance by reading several tweets from other writers who confessed to rewriting their draft novel MANY times.

Have a great day and my advice to you all with any writing problem – just keep writing x

Posted by

Lucy Mitchell lives in South Wales with her husband, her two teenage daughters, a giant labrador and a gang of unruly cats. Lucy is the author of the award winning blog, BlondeWriteMore and was a Featured Romance Author on Wattpad. When she’s not working or writing, Lucy can be found listening to audiobooks in a muddy field with her dog or sat outside her local pub in the sunshine enjoying a glass of wine. Her debut novel Instructions Falling In Love Again is OUT now and already pulling in some fabulous reviews ❤️

16 thoughts on “The 5 Stages of Rewriting Your Draft Novel #MondayBlogs #Writer #Comedy #TotalRewrite

  1. I assume this is just for comic effect and not what you really do when you need to rewrite!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve never tried to rewrite a whole novel (my sympathies to anyone who has!), but I think there’s a lot to be said for ‘keeping it real’, during the 1st few drafts – ie, being honest with yourself about ideas not working. Better still, do so in your head before you even start making notes – if you’re stretching feasibility a bit, accept that this idea might not be ‘the one’ after all, however much you’re dying to write certain parts of it, and that you might have to skip to #2 on the To-Be-Written list!

    I have, however, written whole sections of novels in the past tense before realising they need to be in the present, in the 1st person before accepting that 3rd works better for this particular bit, and whole storylines that need cutting/incorporating. Or, as I’ve just done, discovered that something I’ve just written about is not practically feasible, and I’ve got to do some rethinks and rewrites. In Draft 5. Urgh!!!!

  2. Oh Lucy… I’m working myself up ready to do mine… I don’t think I’m completely rewriting… Just reworking… Does that make sense??
    Plus my excuse for not having done it already is I’m now nursing my Pops…😁

  3. I have just unpicked the first book I wrote back in 2006/7 – ‘unpicked’ being a kind of euphemism for the R word. It was a strange experience because for the first 60 pages I hated everything about it and then the penny dropped. I was starting it in the wrong place. Working out the right place, now that’s tricky but I’m at the falling in love stage and am off there later for another snuggle up. R…..e is tough and beyond my fragile psychological state to admit just now. When I come out the other side I may be able to acknowledge it.

  4. Having completed a rewrite earlier this year and still not happy with it, I have every sympathy, Lucy. Though part of that rewrite is down to the word count being around 180000. Needs quite a bit trimming off…

  5. I’ve definitely had what I call, ‘false starts’ and written a new version (without looking at the old) before. 🙂 Sometimes it takes a few tries to make it past the finish line.

  6. Oh, yay! I’m on Step Four!

    I thought I was just a lazy twat who was willing to do just about anything other than actual work, but if there’s a Step Five then I’m just going through a perfectly normal process and will eventually pull on my big girl panties and Do The Thing. (I don’t want to do the thing. Plus, I just bought these new organizers at the Container Store and I need to… you know… organize them)

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