I'm a (Re)Writer!
For me, story writing is a puzzle that I create for myself to solve.
I had twenty some note cards laid out on my desk for the book I’m currently working on, and my 12-year-old daughter sat across from me staring at my cards instead of doing schoolwork.
She asked, “What are you writing on those cards?”
“Each card is a scene in the section I’m working on.”
She rolled her eyes and said, “Why are you writing things down that you’re just gonna have to write all over again?”
At this question, I knew it was time to break the bad news to her. I explained, “Writing is rewriting.”
I brought up the awesome behind-the-scenes limited series on Disney+ called Into the Unknown: Making of Disney Frozen II about the making of Frozen II at Disney Animation. I told her it took Jennifer Lee and team five years to write the final story for Frozen II.
My daughter beamed, “And it was a good story!”
“The best stories are rewritten until they shine,” I said. “When I was younger and dumber I always wanted my first draft to be very close to my final product. After all, I spent so much time on it, but that’s not the best I can do. My best is beyond the reach of what my first draft can achieve.”
The flipside of that coin is that it might be possible to revise the same story indefinitely (well, for obsessives like me at least). So I must set a time limit, improve the story as much as possible within that limit, then finalize and move on.
And if you subscribe to the monomyth of a hero’s journey like my cheesy ass, then every story we write is a rewrite of the monomyth, improving it to infinity and beyond!
When I decide on a writing project, I leave the big story beats and twists just out of reach. I only know what I want the story to say and how I want it to make me feel. Then I spend a good deal of time daydreaming and mulling it over. Every once in a while I find it’s a bit too far out of my reach and I have to simplify the story, but most of the time, I’m able to solve the puzzle I created. And when I do, I’m more confident the reader will be just as entertained as I was.