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

Jane Friedman

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 co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors.

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. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (March 2018).

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.

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8 Comments on "How Revising Rewards Mistakes"

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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

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.

jshear

The book is in the rewrite.

A.K.Andrew

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.

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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.

jshear

Just sayin’. This rewrite is killing me.

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