View Full Version : Rewrite Burnout Vent

12-17-2006, 12:37 PM
Here's how it went:
I wrote my first novel by hand (chapt.5 through 32 approx 100,000 wds)
I wrote my second novel in the trilogy mostly on my wonderful laptop. (chap 11 through 36 approx 130,000 wds)
Upon finishing book no. 2, I reread book no. 1. To my horror, it was at least a quarter as good as book no. 2. There was also a huge leap in no. 2's quality about where I switched from handwriting to the laptop. In no. 1 there was barely any POV. Some of the chapters made me cringe. For example, I'm writing fantasy and there is this one chapter where the protags are fighting a pirate captain. Half of the Captain's crew is disabled temporarily by a dwarf tricking them into looking into the water, and then having his friend knock them over the side with the boom.
I wrote that.
It is horrible and makes me shudder.
No. 1 is also a great deal shorter than no. 2. The fights are less interesting, the monsters less exciting, the conversation more stilted. There was one huge important thing I learned from this. Never write your first book as part of a trilogy. If failing in rule one, then never write your second book as the sequel.
Now, I tried to edit it. I tried valiently. But in the end the manuscript looked like a pool of red ink with a few scribbles of paper floating in it and the changes really called for a ful rewrite anyway.
So now I'm writing my third book, except I've already written this story. And it's taking a long time (I'm hugely busy finishing college and getting jobs and so on). And I've lost my passion for the story. I reached Chapter 11 and I just. can't. write. another. word.
I love this story. I was looking forwards to making it better and more exciting and more interesting. I adore my characters. But I've got 25 more chapters to go and I just can't bring myself to do it!! GAAAAAH!

Not to mention i got this cool little eerie children's novel idea stuck in my head.
So I'm wondering if I should push through my rewrite, or take a break and write this shorter fresher idea first. What do you think?
And I'm sorry to bend your ears like this, but I needed to vent.

12-17-2006, 01:02 PM
Ouch. Yeah, I had a major leap in my writing ability in the middle of a story once (I must've been...about 14, I guess). For some reason I kept pushing forward in that story, until I looked back at it from the age of 18 or so and realized, "Wow, this starts with crap!"

Don't know what to tell ya...my decision by default has been to do other things and maybe revisit that project when I've gotten sooooo much better that I'd basically be taking the concept and starting from scratch. Though I don't really know if that's the right decision, since I'm kind of bored with even the idea of it any more...I think it was one of those things where if I was going to make anything of it, I needed to do it in one big gulp, if that makes sense.

12-17-2006, 01:40 PM
I think you should take a break and write the children's novel. You might feel invigorated upon your return.

12-17-2006, 01:58 PM
Yeah. Unfortunately I've got a stubborn 'don't start something else until you've finished your first project streak'. And I'd feel bad not writing my original novel.
It's been four blooming years since I wrote the start of the first version. And I'm sick to death (for the moment) of questing fantasy! With monsters!
So maybe you're right. (Sighs)

12-17-2006, 02:06 PM
Rewriting is the time when being a writer is work. (and HARD work as I am now discovering)

I agree with Willowmound. Set it a side. Uncle Jim recommends four months in a drawer over in the novels forum. At that point, pick it up and reread it you may find that it's not as bad as you thought.

As a side note. 130k is a little long for a novel. The general advice I have heard is aim for 80-100k... so the first book doesn't have a problem with length...

Good luck, I got to stop procrastinating and get back to my own rewriting...

12-17-2006, 03:14 PM
Yeah. Unfortunately I've got a stubborn 'don't start something else until you've finished your first project streak'.

I'm the same. But if you're hating it, it's unlikely any sparks will be flying from your words. And we've gotta get those sparks in there if we want to sell!

12-17-2006, 09:47 PM
I'm a lot like that, "Must follow through, no matter what!" But then sometimes someone has suggested that I put it aside and do something else. At first I get all indignant, "Oh so you don't think I can finish it?" Then sad, "But I really like this story, it feels wrong to abandon it!" And then, then I think, "Well what if?" And the times that I have just stopped, and tried something else. . . well they have been such a freeing experience. Try it out. If you can't get your mind off your trilogy, then you know you should go back to it. But I bet you'll enjoy the respite.

Melanie Nilles
12-17-2006, 10:37 PM
If it makes you feel any better, I had been working on a fantasy idea that originally I expected to be broken into two books. Hah! After three years and about 100 pages into the second book, I scrapped 2/3 of all of it and completely rewrote, fitting in and adapting the scenes I had kept. Oh, and I ended up reworking the plot into 3-4 books. After another few years, I had books 2 & 3 done and still wasn't happy with some parts of book 1, and I did take a break after book 3 to pursue another idea, in the middle of which Dark Angel came to me. (That one is due out in April 2008, but I'm still looking for the other manuscript to find a good home--a reputable agent has a partial right now.) Well, after about 5 months away from the original fantasy epic, I started into book 4. That gave me the break I need, but I find I need more frequent breaks from writing to refresh myelf. After seven years with this project, I am burning out, but I want to finish it (particularly before this baby is born) and have about 20-30K words to go. The story is good and the characters are so automatic for me that the only problem I have is wrapping up the plot and all the little subplots. I may revisit the world someday, since it allows for so many different stories to be told, but I already have other ideas in the back of my head that will give me a breath of fresh air after I've written "The End" of this one.

The moral? Do what you have to do to keep from burning out. Also, keep at it--you'll feel better when you reach the end and can say you've accomplished your goal. Last, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite until you're at last moderately satisfied (you never will be fully satisfied, since you'll always find faults as you advance in your writing).


12-29-2006, 11:04 AM
Just a little update on this. I took your advice, and set aside the rewrite to start on the new novel Saturday last (the 16th). Now I'm eight chapters into the novel and absolutely loving it. My writer's blues are gone! It's fantastic!
And the best thing is, I think what I'm writing is some of the best work I've written yet. It's more fresh and original and interesting than my old novel.
:D. Don't mind me, I'm just going to smile and hum to myself in this corner for a bit...

12-29-2006, 04:28 PM
Very smart. I think on returning to your earlier works you'll see them in a different light (absence really does make the heart grow fonder) and be able to improve on them.

On a side note, I don’t see how anybody can write by hand these days. I know there are some that do, but I can’t give up the ease and versatility of the word processor. I need my cut and paste!

12-29-2006, 11:04 PM
Writing by hand was caused by necessity more than preference. I was leading a very busy life at the time (still am, actually) and the only free time I got, was while travelling to and from my college. At the time I was too poor to afford a Laptop, so pen and paper was the only way I could go.
Your hand does cramp up after a while, and it took ages to get the blue ink stains off my palm (left handed).

12-29-2006, 11:06 PM
Any way to make it one BIG novel?

I know it's a popular belief that huge novels don't get published, especially by first-timers, but there are shedloads of authors who write big and sell big, too. Yes, first-timers too.

12-31-2006, 03:57 AM
Make what one big novel? The trilogy?
Um - well, I could, but it would be about the size of LOTR and there's approx. 30-40 years between books. The first (or the rewrite of the first) is promising to be about 160 - 200 thousand words long. The second is 160, and the third could be any length from 140-200. So... it would be a very long book.
I hope to cut them down a bit, but they'll probably still be about 120-140,000 words long each.
Actually, I'm enjoying writing a short book for a change. Epic-length novels were getting tiring. :)

Sean D. Schaffer
12-31-2006, 08:54 AM

Not to mention i got this cool little eerie children's novel idea stuck in my head.
So I'm wondering if I should push through my rewrite, or take a break and write this shorter fresher idea first. What do you think?
And I'm sorry to bend your ears like this, but I needed to vent.

Personally, I would write the shorter, fresher idea first. Give the other one a rest for a while, and then come back to it later on when you have had some time away from it.

I look at it like making homemade white bread. You work it for a while, then let the yeast do the work for a time. Then you work it again a little more, and let the yeast work it some more. The time you spend away from the work, in some cases, can act as a fermenting agent just like yeast does in bread. Without the yeast to ferment the bread, it would still be edible, but in my own opinion, it wouldn't be quite as good.

The same thing, I think, is true for writing. If you let the work ferment by leaving it alone, you can come at it with a much better perspective and figure it out more efficiently than you would if you just started over immediately.

I hope this helps. Good luck to you.


01-01-2007, 12:44 AM
I keep a folder of every idea that I jot down. And in that folder, I have several scenes. When I get stuck on one story, I go to the next and try my luck. Most of the time, I can write two, three, and maybe four pages before I'm all out of words. Sounds funny doesn't it? But that's what I go through every time I sit down to write.

My third novel is a joke. The story is really awesome, but I don't know how many times I've switched the POV from third to first and then back to first and the rewriting/editing is still yet not completed. At one point, I will make a decision of which POV makes sense for the story. That might be the reason I became so burned out on it.

Anywho, I think that's the best thing you can do. Put it away for a while, and let the story brew for a while before you leap back into it. :)