QUOTES ON REWRITING...

This is a post I wrote on March 11, 2011, I believe. I'm in the midst of rewriting my WIP, and decided it was time to review this article. Hope you find something here that will inspire you to rewrite or even to write. Let me know if anything speaks to you. 


Rewriting/ Quotes by other writers

Sometimes beginning writers say they don't believe in rewriting because they're afraid they'll "lose the spontaneity" of the first draft. This is naive; rewriting means making the work better by adding, deleting, and revising; what worked well in the first draft stays--that's the effective spontaneity. Most professional writers know the heady sense of control that comes with the revision process--this is where one knows one has mastery of the
writing craft. Note the following comments. Not sure who wrote the above intro but the quotes below are worthy of sharing. Enjoy!

"It is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is common in all writing and among the best of writers."
- E. B. White

"I don't write easily or rapidly. My first draft usually has only a few elements worth keeping. I have to find what those are and build from them and throw out what doesn't work, or what simply is not alive."
- Susan Sontag

"Half my life is an act of revision; more than half the act is performed with small changes."
- John Irving

"I revise the manuscript till I can't read it any longer, then I get somebody to type it. Then I revise the typing. Then it's retyped again. Then there's a third typing, which is the final one. Nothing should then remain that offends the eye."
- Robert Graves

"I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times before I was satisfied."
- Ernest Hemingway

"I do a lot of revising. Certain chapters six or seven times. Occasionally you can hit it right the first time. Most often, you don't."
- John Dos Passos

"I can't write five words but that I change seven."
- Dorothy Parker

"I have rewritten--often several times--every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers."
- Vladmir Nabokov

"First drafts are learning what your novel or story is about. Revision is working with that knowledge to enlarge or enhance an idea, or reform it."
- Thomas Wolfe

"A thing may in itself be the finest piece of writing one has ever done, and yet have absolutely no place in the manuscript one hopes to publish."
- Carolyn Forche

"Read over your compositions and, when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out."
- Samuel Johnson

"There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I'm greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed."
- John Galbreath

"I rewrite everything, almost idiotically. I rewrite and work and work, and rewrite and rewrite some more."
- Laura Z. Hobson

"I retype everything four, five, and six times--critical passages more--and everything, say three times."
- James Michener

"Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped."
- Lillian Hellman

"Only amateurs don't rewrite. It's in the rewriting that writers bring ALL their knowledge--basic craft, technique, style, organization, attitude, creative inspiration --to the work."
- Gloria T. Delamar

"Writing a first draft is like groping one's way into a dark room, or overhearing a faint conversation, or telling a joke whose punchline you've forgotten. As someone said, one writes mainly to rewrite, for rewriting and revising are how one's mind comes to inhabit the material fully."
- Ted Solotaroff

"The waste paper basket is the writer's best friend."
- Isaac B. Singer

How do you feel the task of rewriting? Do you do a lot of it? Share your comments, please. Thanks!

Comments

  1. I'm not a writer but I would assume rewriting is the norm. Heck, even in my profession (surgery) redo happens. That might be a case where the "sword" is mightier than the pen!


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  2. Rewriting is very important! If you are a writer, you know that. Someone once told me that if you're a good writer, you shouldn't have to rewrite. This person wasn't a writer! I rewrite a lot and each time it makes my article or manuscript better.

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  3. Absolutely Yaya and Janet. Rewriting is a necessity. Some may write the perfect sentence, once. But not over and over again as in a novel. And I can tell that my work improves over time. That's why I let things marinate. When I go back there's always lot of rearranging. I read essays and novels now that could have used some serious rewriting. Oh well. It takes all of us to make the world go round. Thanks for stopping by.

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