1) It feels like starting over. It took me months to brainstorm, plot, outline, and write draft 1. Working out character arcs and plot points, getting the tone right. It was like an obstacle course -- a fun, rewarding one, but still an obstacle course. And obstacle courses are not as fun the second time around. Rewriting means going all the way back to the beginning. Pinpointing my weak areas, reworking those, then reworking those corresponding chapters. After I've come so far, I have to go back. It's like living in a five story walk-up. Trudging all the way downstairs to the street before realizing you forgot your wallet on your desk.
2) I have to overhaul something that is complete. No matter how flawed my first draft is, it tells a complete story. That story may have plot holes and unbelievable character moments, but it is coherent and not awful. Having to go back into my complete story and change parts is daunting. Because I can't just switch some things around and call it a day. There are usually structural problems and major character development issues that need to be fixed. And those affect large chunks of the story. Once I change those, I have to change the other parts that were affected by those changes. Meaning that my complete story is getting blown to bits, and I have to put it together again.
3) I must be analytical rather than creative. The first draft is the fun part because I get to be purely creative. I am setting the narrative tone, fleshing out characters for the first time and writing exciting sequences. I have a blank slate, and I can fill it however I want. All the fun stuff we writers love to do. But when rewriting, I have to take off my writer hat and put on my critical sombrero. I can't reread a chapter I wrote and say "Wow Phil, you're such a good writer!" I have to dig beneath the surface and find out why it isn't working. I have to decide if it belongs later or sooner in the story. I have to excise dialogue I love because it's dragging or out of character. They don't call it Killing Your Darlings for nothing.
4) Rewriting is the opposite of how I like to write first drafts. I write my first drafts fast and furiously. I have a detailed outline, and I try to tackle 1 chapter every 2 days. Momentum helps carry me along. My goal is to finish the draft as fast as possible, so I have a finished product I can begin revising. Problem is, I can't revise fast and furiously. I may tell myself I'll revise 1 chapter every 2 days, but that may not happen. I may get stuck, or the chapter I just rewrote may need more revising. Rewriting is a much slower process, which goes against how I prefer to do my writing.
The popular phrase is "Writing is rewriting." I believe that is true 100%; that is why I am not a published author yet. I do believe I have it in me to revise a novel and get it to agent-level. On my next novel that I write, I am going to work hard to make it through revising. I will put myself on a stricter schedule to ensure that I keep up with it, for one.
What are your thoughts on revising? A necessary evil or welcome pleasure? Any rewriting tips you care to share?