Successful Rewriting, The First Draft
This is a SATIRICAL version of the original post. NSFW and all that jazz.
Rewrite- it has three too many letters. And, just like the four-letter word it really is, it should come with a Google Adsense Policy statement and parental advisory rating. After all, any rewrite requires three times as much coffee and four times as much liquor as the original text.
My personal journey while writing (and rewriting) The Erden Archives has been an incredibly complex one. To be honest, I’ve never really stopped. That’s because I’ve discovered the Holy Grail of authorship- the perpetual rewrite. By constantly rewriting your work, you claim the superiority of consistent self-improvement while actually avoiding finishing any work at all.
This wasn’t given to me by an editor or publisher. I came across this idea the same way I’ve realized all my important ideas- while sitting alone, drinking. Since I never listen to anyone who isn’t doing what I’m doing, there’s a lot of me time at 2PM on a Tuesday in a cafe as I sip my Irish Coffee. Time for great ideas.
The important thing is to think about these things while intoxicated. The ideas are much better then, and motivation comes easy. That way, halfway through spewing more text out, you’re too committed to not see it through. Moreover, when you’re sober and reread the crap you wrote when you were drunk, you now have the dual excuse to drink again and rewrite. It becomes a never ending cycle that looks like self-improvement to everyone else who is struggling to survive while you struggle to stay seated.
A noticeable pattern emerges, and looks a lot like self-hate. Sometimes you see it on the faces of others- a frown from your significant other, a scowl from your parents. Remember, this isn’t them- this is your internal self-loathing projecting onto their faces. If this happens long enough, you lose yourself completely, feeling like you’re working only to please them, which isn’t why you became a writer.
The truth is, every author goes through this. We each have our own underlying motivations for writing- what makes us want to be writers, and at some point, we will all come to a point where our motivations are challenged. Eventually, we will be asked to do something that interrupts our normal way of finding our joy- drinking while pretending to write.
In those moments, we have to dig deep and perform beyond even our own expectations.
Happily, my friends, you can fret no more. Through my tribulations, I’ve developed a foolproof system to ensure your success as an author. Normally, I sell this as part of my Successful Authorship seminar for $999, but I’m so successful, and I know you’ll fall into my sales funnel so completely, that I’m giving this life-changing advice for FREE!
The Seven Steps to Successful Rewriting
1) A rewrite is an opportunity (for you to do even less).
This cannot be stressed enough. We all chose to be writers because the 9 to 5 grind has killed our will to live. You’re one of the smart people and exited before you woke up, wondering why you’re 70 pounds heavier than you should be, are on purple pills, and blue ones, and pink ones, and who the hell gave you teenage kids!
You’re not there. You realized early on that you would rather do nothing but sit in a cafe or drink. (In my case, my stainless steel flask allows me to do both at the same time.) A rewrite provides you an unlimited amount of time to stare blankly at a screen of words you’ve already written. Think of it as writer’s block with pregenerated progress..
2) Narcissism (lots of it).
Excessive ego is a requirement to be successful in any field now. There are too many successful people to pinpoint a single one as the axiom of success. However, they all cook from the same recipe- narcissism. No one can tell them that they have made a mistake, and they are so optimistic, they see they failure as opportunity that they created themselves, whether that be bankruptcy, faking a jus ad bellum, or simply their own ineptitude. They don’t listen if someone brings them up. It takes real heart to look at yourself and say, “Nope there’s nothing I should change.”
You should be just as critical about yourself and your work. People might tell you introspection is a trait to cherish, but really they’re just trying to hold you back. What they really mean is, ‘Polished presentation is everything. Look at yourself and decide if you’re polished.’ After all, your work is a representative you, and honestly, you can bring a turd to a brilliant, high-gloss shine. (Myth Busted.)
And that’s really what a rewrite is all about. Once it shines, no one will care that it’s full of shit, and most people won’t believe that it’s a turd at all. All you need to do is include all the latest popular things into your story, concepts that will increase your market sales increase, and draw readers to your crap.
3) Steal the idea.
The best ideas are other people’s. Listen carefully to your publicist, editors, beta readers, random strangers, and the homeless. Take their ideas while they think you actually want to hear what they say. Even better if you can make it look like you were pandering to them all along. Just make sure they know you know that it was your idea all along, that way they know how much better you really are than them.
After all, the best shit sandwich is the one that you make yourself. Eating a shit sandwich from someone else means they got one on you, as it were. Eating your own means you got one on someone else. Who eats your shit sandwich is only an ancillary concern; the important thing is that you made someone eat your shit sandwich, even if it’s you.
4) Externalize your progress.
As any successful author will tell you, progress is illusory. You need to sell your readers, editors, friends and family on the illusion that you’re making progress. Pointing them to a list of things that you’re doing always helps maintain the illusion. I just randomly point my finger at the list and say, “I’m here today.”
Occasionally, that means that I put my finger on a point I ‘have already done.’ When that happens, I use Progress Cliche #3, “Sometimes, you have to go back to go forward.” Works every time.
5) Progress for your own sake.
If you’ve made it this far, chances are good someone, somewhere, no longer believes in the progress you’re manufacturing. That’s because they’re just as disillusioned with life as you are. Chances are even better they’re also an author. That means, at some point, you will need concrete evidence of your progress.
By making minute changes, like using an obscure synonym or taking out a clarifying phrase, you can demonstrate your superiority over others while not truly making any progress at all. After all, the aim of this game is stunned bewilderment. People that are stunned and bewildered are more impressionable, and easier to separate from their wallet.
6) Cultivate your cult.
It’s important to have a loyal following to give you praise for your rewrites. Those who don’t offer genuine compliments don’t have a natural, instinctive will to live. Granted, we’re not talking actual murder, but no one wants to see the character they inspired die. Smart people know this, and will happily feed you the compliments you deserve.
7) Everything is better said the first time.
How funny is a joke if it has to be retold? Likewise, as an author, reviewing your work isn’t fun. Or necessary. You’re an author. Writing is what you do, and anyone telling you to rewrite isn’t writing themselves. Whatever you’ve put down, you put it best when you put it down the first time.