How Revising Rewards Mistakes

Amina Gautier

Amina Gautier

One writing and publishing adage I’ve always believed in: “Writing is rewriting.”

Fiction writer Amina Gautier’s approach is similar. For her, revising is the best part. Over at the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, she offers tips on unlocking the joy of revision. She says:

Revising encourages and liberates the writer to “make mistakes.” It rewards mistakes; each “mistake” teaches one something about the story one is writing and gets one that much closer to the story one is meant to write. Revision reconciles the competing versions of the story that the writer carries in his head. Until the writer has gotten the story down on paper or onto the screen, he often cannot tell the difference between what he actually wrote, what he thought he wrote, and what he hoped to write. 

Go read the entire piece over at Glimmer Train. Also take a look at Michael Varga’s “Find the Seeds in Your Own Biography.”

Posted in Creativity + Inspiration.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

Join the conversation

8 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
Weekly review: Week ending September 5, 2014 - sacha chua :: living an awesome lifeJake ParentSummer’s Over | jean's writingA.K.Andrewjshear Recent comment authors

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
William Ash
William Ash

Yes, yes, and yes. The first draft is just preparation. It is the revision and editing process that the work is made. And that draft needs to be messy and bloated–you should just let it all hang out. And then you go in with a knife and craft the piece–and that is where the fun begins. Love working after making that draft. As Pascal said, I would have written less if I had more time. There is nothing worse that trying to make a 10,000 word article from a 5,000 word draft.

Mary Holm
Mary Holm

I have no problem with revisions. In fact, I have the opposite problem. I can’t stop revising. I learn more everyday and I know I can always make something better. At some point I have to force myself to stop and move on to something else. But it’s really hard.


The book is in the rewrite.


Fabulous post. I truly love revising where you can weed out, reconstruct and re-vision the work as you want it to be. And it not only makes for a better book, but helps to keep it fresh in our own minds.


[…] How Revising Rewards Mistakes […]

Jake Parent
Jake Parent

“Until the writer has gotten the story down on paper or onto the screen, he often cannot tell the difference between what he actually wrote, what he thought he wrote, and what he hoped to write. ”

So well said.

I’m a big proponent of letting the truth take you where it wants.


Just sayin’. This rewrite is killing me.


[…] of Revision: You can find your story/thought by figuring out what it isn’t. Hat tip to How Revising Rewards Mistakes for […]