Rewrite With the Door Open [by Michelle Chepchumba]

I have been an upcoming writer my whole life. I am not ashamed of this because I know a whole bunch of people who are exactly the same way. People who have heard since they were 8 years old how good their stories are. People who have spent the past decade writing on notebooks, foolscaps, and later on, on their laptops…but never let anybody see what it is they are always scribbling. People who have every intention to ‘become’ writers, to publish someday, to be recognized in the literary field. People who never actually get round to doing all this because, life.

There is always a bunch of reasons why. Some (most?) are lazy and not committed enough. They write in bouts. They set writing goals and never achieve them past the first two days. Others are dedicated but don’t know where to start. They are not informed and so basically just stand there, clutching at their manuscripts, getting more and more frustrated. Others, well, they are just fearful. If there is one thing that an ‘upcoming’ writer yearns for, it is validation. You want somebody to tell you, ‘Okay, you’ve got something here but you need to fix this and this. But good job.’ You want someone to confirm that your dreams are valid, that you are not just wasting your time, and to point out where you can improve on to set you on your way to writer stardom.

Because I fall into one or all of these categories at any given time, I picked up Stephen King’s On Writing. I mean, we could all do with some hard-hitting truths once in a while, right? There are two main things I have picked up from this book so far, and they are not even things I’m hearing for the first time, that’s the sad thing.

One is that if you have no time to read, then you have no time to write. Simple, a bit harsh, but necessary. The second thing is this: You should write with the door closed, but rewrite with the door open. Write with no distractions, by yourself, in complete solitude. Creating has been said to be a solitary calling. But we all know that by the time the first draft is done, you are only just beginning. Do not rewrite with the door closed, by yourself, locked away from the rest of the world. Because you will need other eyes to see your work afresh. You will need to find out whether what you have done is working or not. Rewriting is more a group effort than a solitary calling.

So those of us who have been writing and trashing it, or writing and keeping it to ourselves, we need to learn to rewrite with the door open. Otherwise, how is anybody ever going to find that gem of a story you’ve got there? We need to put our work out there, listen to what other people think, and learn to edit according to the feedback we get.

The good thing is that during this year’s Storymoja Festival, there is going to be a Masterclass on self-editing. Wouldn’t that be a good place to start, oh Forever Upcoming Writer? You will learn how to look at your work afresh and work on what needs to be worked on. In fact, the festival promises that this Masterclass will push you a step closer to getting your manuscript ready for publication. You will even get to know what you can do to make your manuscript considered for publication by the publisher you are hoping to forward it to. I think this Masterclass on Self Editing Skills will help to finally rid me of this title, Upcoming. I am ready to rewrite with the door open. Are you?

See a list of Masterclasses you can choose and register for.

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