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3 Approaches to Rewriting That Will Stop You From Crying

crying.pngGetting notes back on a piece of writing that indicate your work wasn't perfect from the get-go can be upsetting, especially if you're a Type A personality like myself. Every time I receive a document covered in track changes (especially strike-throughs!), I feel just a tad sensitive about it. 

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But I'm constantly rewriting because, much to my dismay, I know how important it is. Rewriting isn't telling you how wrong you are; it's just telling you how much better you can be. And so many authors sing its praises. It would be a lie to say your favorite author — whether it's Stephen King, John Steinbeck, or Maya Angelou — didn't rewrite.

As a writer and an editor, you know all of this already, right? The hardest part isn't in knowing that rewrites are required. Rather, it's getting down into the nitty-gritty and turning someone else's notes into a fantastic piece of content. Because I'm constantly rewriting, here are some of my own tips that will get you out of your head to ensure you're not taking major changes to heart:

1. Call up your reviewer.

Reading notes in a document or email can be upsetting, and written communication is never as precise as we need it to be. Until we get a sarcastic emoji or replace all of our language with GIFs, tone is going to be impossible to discern. Call or sit down with your reviewer in person to get a better idea of what each note means.

Once you start speaking about those notes out loud, you might be surprised to find that the comment “This entire section needs to change!” really just means a different adjective is needed. Remember, you know your content better than the person reviewing it, so after you talk it out, you'll have the best grasp of what's required to make the content successful. 

2. Stop thinking about it!

If you can take a day or two to get away from the article (or book, blog, or screenplay), do it. Removing yourself from the point of contention will give you time to creatively problem-solve and increase your work productivity.
 
I've always found that after receiving a really frustrating round of notes, a good walk or some time alone (e.g., distraction time on the Internet) helps lessen the emotional impact of discovering that I’m not perfect.

3. Re-evaluate your content's reason for existence.

Why are you writing this piece of content? Why is this article or book important? Whether you're writing 1,000 words or 50,000 words, everything needs to further the conversation and connect back to the original intent.

Take a look at the source materials to figure this out. For an article, this could mean the publication's guidelines and your original notes. With these in hand, write a list of questions you have about the content that relate to the article's main idea. If you can’t answer them, find the answers as you go through the rewrite. Think of it as a scavenger hunt that will eventually lead to successful publication.

If the content still isn't working after doing each of these things, it might be time to go back to the drawing board. Sometimes, you don't just need to do a major overhaul of the content — you might need to start from scratch.

Rewriting can be scary: My stomach drops about 50 feet each time I get a ton of notes instead of a gold star. But you're never going to create A-plus articles on the first try. Don't let yourself be intimidated; tackle those edits head-on so your content gets the love it deserves. 

To discover how to create exceptional content, download the free guide below: New Call-to-action

About Seanna Tucker

Books, coffee, and learning are my passions in life — in that order. P.S. Take a stab at pronouncing my name. I dare you.

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