Friday Speak Out!: Rewriting My Way, Guest Post by Sue Bradford Edwards

Friday, December 16, 2011
Rewriting My Way

by Sue Bradford Edwards

When an agent asked me to rewrite my middle grade novel, I agreed. After all, her recommendations would really up the tension. Fortunately, I knew enough not to simply run with her comments. Some things I would do verbatim. For others, I studied what didn’t work and came up with my own solutions. When I was done, I had made her suggestions my own and planned how to rework the manuscript.

Now, I simply had to fit the project around my deadlines. I wasn’t sure how to do this and went to my writing friends for help.

Donna told me that big projects need big blocks of time. I couldn’t rent a cabin to work for a solid weekend, but I made Friday into Rewrite Day, a reward for finishing my paying jobs. Fridays came and Fridays went, but the words didn’t flow although rewriting is probably my favorite part of writing. Maybe I needed another solution.

Back to my writer friends.

When I tried another friend’s weekly word goal, it worked to a point. I made my word count, but it was a slog, put off until the last minute each and every Friday. This type of effort shows in my writing. I knew something had to change for this rewrite to work.

When my critique group met, I whined about the problem to Stephanie Bearce, who’s also working on a middle grade novel. “We’ll both finish our drafts by November,” she said. “We’ll tell everyone in the group and have their support.”

I ignore public goals on a regular basis, but this was different. We would both be working toward a deadline. That made it competitive. Competitive I can do, if I could get my rewrite moving.

But how? I whined some more to Stephanie. “Every Friday, I have so much trouble getting back into my story after not working on it for a whole week.”

To her credit, Stephanie didn’t even roll her eyes as I realized that the goals weren’t the problem. Working on it only once a week was the problem, at least for me. I needed to work on the project more often.

Instead of putting off my rewrite until Friday, it would be the first writing I did for 30 minutes every day. It wouldn’t be the reward for a week well spent, but a treat to get me going.

And it worked. Because I worked on the story daily, I easily slipped back into my character’s head. Sure, I still had deadlines, but I only worked on them after working on the novel. This inspired me to quit playing around and write.

My original weekly word goal? I exceeded it, and I reached the end of the story the 1st week in November.

All it took was a solution that suited me and the way I work.

* * *

Sue Bradford Edwards is a writer and book reviewer who creates scenes in her home office in St. Louis, Missouri. Read her work at and To find out more about her or her writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey (, her book review blog, The Bookshelf (, or her website (

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Andrea Mack said...

Interesting post. I find it works best to keep at it every day too, though in my case I seem to be revising at a snail-like pace. I think I need to get that competitive goal thing going with one of my crit buddies, to keep me motivated.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I think that part of the reason that I could move so quickly was that this was essentially a new draft. The first two chapters were new. Then I had several chapters that changed very little and then I was on to a new setting. I still have a lot of work ahead of me!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great post, Sue!

I think you helped me figure out WHY I've never finished any of the novels I've written. I wrote them when I had a huge block of time (like a month in Maui with nothing else to do!). Well, those days are over and I constantly have deadlines. I try to write creatively AFTER I've finished all my work. But by the time I'm through with deadline stuff I'm burnt out and uninspired. I need to follow your advice and work on my novel BEFORE my work.

But my problem is I obsess about the work I have to do and can't stop thinking about it until it's done. So my question is: how do you put the deadline work out of your head so you can write creatively?

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I think it may just be a case of mental trickery. I normally do my deadline work from 11 am until 3 pm. So I sit down and do the creative writing before that. I'm done long before I would normally start the other project so I know I'm not eating into that time. Because it isn't costing me "work time," I seem to be able to put the work out of my mind long enough for the creative writing to take place.

Margo Dill said...

Glad to see I'm not the only writer with this problem! The problem for me is working in short spurts of time because of my one-year-old daughter, and so I feel like I HAVE to do my contract work first. The best thing i am doing though is continuing to go to a critique group. I want to have something to turn into them, so they make me keep working on my novel!

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

A critique group is a great way to set up creative deadlines. That said, working around a toddler is tough. Is there any way you could do your creative work while she has "Daddy time" or something like that?

Connie Hebert said...

Thanks for this - When I tell people I write regularly, they often ask if I've set up a particular time or place - I always answer no - And, in fact, I do write in different places and at different times - and it works for me - so thx

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