How Do You Deal with Your Limitations during a Rewrite? #amwriting #IWSG

Here on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series, it is my absolute pleasure today to welcome Michael Dellert, author, editor, friend, who has imparted his nuggets of wisdom at this space before– here , here, and here. Today he talks about how writers can handle their limitations during rewrites:


One of the hardest things about the rewrite process is how it brings one face-to-face with one’s own limitations. It’s humbling. Hell, it’s downright scary.

Lately on my blog, I’ve been exploring and sharing my own novel rewriting process.

The Wedding of Eithne by MiChael DellertThe rewrite of my own upcoming novel, The Wedding of Eithne, proved to be particularly difficult.

By the middle of the process, I felt lost, overwhelmed. Like I’d taken on more than I could handle. I stared at scenes for days on end with my head in my hands: “What the hell am I trying to say here?” Imposter syndrome crept over me like an early winter’s night. Self-doubt nibbled at the corners of my confidence. “What made me think I could do this?”

And then I reminded myself: I’m not supposed to fully understand my own story. I’m supposed to be in over my head. I’m nothing but a channel for these characters, their situations, and all the images and ideas that come with them. And if these characters don’t feel like they’re in over their head, if the situations aren’t overwhelming, if the stakes aren’t life-and-death, then I’m not doing my job.

So I embraced my limitations. I grabbed them and held them tight, and I thanked my lucky stars for them. Without them, I’d have no idea what my characters were feeling. No idea if the situation was overwhelming.

If my story wasn’t daunting enough to give me pause, then it wasn’t daunting enough.

But how did I get past those limitations? How did I turn them around and put them to work?

Romance of Eowain Michael Dellert
Romance of Eowain

Through inquiry. I asked questions of the characters, of their situations, of the images and ideas that surrounded them. Where do these feelings of insecurity and uncertainty and fear live in my story? From those questions, a coherent narrative emerged. I didn’t create it. It created itself.

How? It’s a mystery. It’s an act of faith. But not blind faith. Not faith in creative writing classes, and books on narrative and structure, and beta-readers and online writing gurus (Hi!). It’s faith in oneself. In the story one carries inside oneself. By embracing the mystery that guided me to write this story, and trusting it, I connected to the living story within myself, the story that wanted to be told.

I acknowledged my limitations and focused on the more technical aspects of the rewrite—tightening prose, clarifying sentences, banishing clichés and redundancies—and the story became clear to me in a deeper, more meaningful way.

So how did I do this? I made a list of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. I didn’t judge them. I just noticed them.

  • Strengths
    • I write good dialogue.
    • I write great action scenes.
  • Weaknesses
    • I omit body language cues.
    • I neglect setting.

By acknowledging my limitations, I found a deeper understanding of my story. I focused on those weaknesses, and worked to overcome them. But I played to my strengths too. If that dialogue lacked action and body language cues, could I think of it like an action scene, a verbal sparring match? Could I introduce more setting without slowing the pace? By inquiring into the nature of my limitations and how to overcome them, I came to a deeper understanding of my story.

And as Albert Einstein once said, “Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.”

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Michael DellertMichael Dellert is an award-winning writer, editor, publishing consultant, and writing coach with a publishing career spanning 18 years. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in literary journals such as The Backporch Review, The Harbinger, Idiom, and Venture. His poetry has also appeared in the anthologies The Golden Treasury of Great Poems and Dance on the Horizon, and he is a two-time winner of the Golden Poet Award from World of Poetry Press. He is the author of the Heroic Fantasy adventures Hedge King in Winter, A Merchant’s Tale, and The Romance of Eowain. His fourth book, The Wedding of Eithne, was published in April 2017. He currently lives and works in the Greater New York City area as a freelance writer, editor, and publishing consultant.

If you’re a writer, do you remember your limitations while doing a rewrite? How do you cope with your insecurities? Are you a reader, a writer, or both?  Do you read more short stories or novels? As a reader or writer, do you have questions for Michael Dellert? Michael will be giving away kindle copies of Romance of Eowain and Wedding of Eithne to two commenters.

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Writer's retreatThis post was written for the IWSG. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for organizing and hosting the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) every month! Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway!

I host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.Writer's Retreat

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Ever heard of Wedding Kits from Religious and #Wedding Attire? #Upcycling #WATWB

We are the World BlogfestWe are the World Blogfest is back with its second edition.

To spread peace and humanity on social media, a few of us have worked together to create the We are the World Blogfest, and the cohosts for the April 2017 WATWB are: Belinda Witzenhausen, Inderpreet Uppal, Mary Giese, Peter Nena, and Simon Falk.

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In the spirit of “In Darkness, Be Light,” here’s a link to a heartwarming piece of news from India, about the upcycling of urban wedding attire and religious offerings to create wedding kits for underprivileged rural folk:

Weddings in India are a grand affair in every possible way. However, these become a financial burden for several families who have limited means to spend on the occasion.

A Delhi-based non-profit, Goonj has taken up the responsibility to make sure that those people with a tiny wedding budget end up with almost everything they want. Goonj has been involved in collecting used wedding attires from urban cities, remodeling and distributing them in rural villages through the local panchayats. They recycle and use ‘mata ki chunni’ (used in bulks for religious ceremonies) to make lehengas for brides. While many discard those chunnis in the rivers and some give them away, Goonj urges and requests people to give them those Chunnis so that they can make wedding kits for people.”

What is your Dream Writer’s Retreat? #IWSG

Writer's retreatWhat’s your idea of a Writer’s retreat? I recently saw an article on the writer’s retreats of some famous authors, Rowling, Hemingway, Ian Fleming and the like.

I stay on the lookout for nice places, on the off-chance I get to retire in them long term, or get short-term residencies. Recently, I stayed at a hotel in Udaipur, In Rajasthan, India– a family trip, not much to do with writing. It was an estate with stunning views all around, and I did a spot of writing while there. See all the pictures here.

This Couple Created a Forest! ‘We Are The World’ Blogfest #WATWB

We are the World Blogfest

To spread peace and humanity on social media, a few of us have worked together to create the We are the World Blogfest:

Belinda WitzenhausenEmerald BarnesEric Lahti, Inderpreet UppalLynn Hallbrooks, Mary Giese, Michelle Wallace, Peter Nena, Roshan RadhakrishnanSimon Falk, Susan Scott, Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein.

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Each month a few of us would lead the co-hosting, and the inaugural month Lead co-hosts for  “We Are the World Blogfest” are Belinda WitzenhausenLynn Hallbrooks, Simon Falk, Sylvia McGrath, and yours truly, Damyanti.

In the spirit of “In Darkness, Be Light,” here’s a link to a heartwarming piece of news from southern India: A couple has transformed 300 acres of denuded farmland in Karnataka into India’s first private wildlife sanctuary. Check out pictures of the sanctuary here and watch this video to know more.

Excerpt:

“Once we bought the land, we allowed the forest to regenerate. We planted native species where necessary and allowed nature to take care of the rest,” says Anil.

Today, SAI Sanctuary covers approximately 300 acres, and draws naturalists and scientists doing research on the different animal species as well as hundreds of indigenous trees and plants, which have medicinal value as well. Hunting and poaching was a challenge…They worked with the forest department to set up camera traps and keep poachers away. “There are times I have fought poachers with logs,” says Pamela.

Thinking of #London and We are the World #WATWB

LondonAlmost one year ago, I walked the streets of London, and spent time with good friends, along with working harder than ever on my writing. Today, from deep within my editing cave, I think back on those times. After news of Westminster broke this morning, I’ve scrolled through my snapshots a fair number of times. They aren’t particularly great shots but for me, each of them carries a memory of a person or a conversation, and that’s what makes them special. May the spirit of London continue to enchant and inspire, may Londoners forever be defiant in their courage, optimism, and togetherness.

May the spirit of London continue to inspire, may Londoners forever be defiant in their courage. Click to Tweet

LondonI’d just like to add that I see a lot of sadness in the news today, and everyday, from London, from Syria, and other war-torn places in the world. I do not suggest flinching from it, but I also do not recommend wallowing in it. Instead let us spread just a little light, in our own small way. For me, I’ve just shared a few photos of London and its people, on social media, and posted an album of them here.

My last post announced the We Are the World Blogfest, I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

London We are the world Blogfest

What positive act of humanity in life, in the news, or social media did you find today? What are your thoughts on what’s happened in London, and continues to happen in other parts of the world? How can we make a positive difference? Would you like to join the We are the World Blogfest? CLICK HERE for all my shots of London, and a little bit of cheer.

Please join Daily (w)rite on its Facebook Page in case you’d like to be heard by this community. If you liked this post, you can have biweekly posts delivered to your inbox: click the SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL button.