Tag Archives: Rewriting

How Do You Know When You’re Finished?

By Gail Blohowiak

I recently listened to Walter Mosley on Wisconsin Public Radio in an interview on writing. Mosley is an acclaimed American mystery writer best known for his Easy Rawlins character. He answered this question for the interviewer.

This was Mosley’s final answer (which I paraphrase) ‘When I don’t find any reason to rewrite again, I’m finished.’ In the interview, he said he rewrites up to twenty-six drafts. That’s a lot of drafts. That’s a lot of rewriting.

I thought I was rewriting too much. I’ve switched my work from first person to third, or present tense to past tense. I played around with the format. I’ve reworked my word choices. I’ve written a scene as quickly as I can and later gone back later to fill in the details.

I enlisted alpha and beta readers for feedback. I’ve joined a critique group. I write and rewrite. I learn. I listen. Then, I write and rewrite.

I thought something was wrong with me! Not according to Mr. Mosley. My manuscript is progressing. I’m only on my sixth or seventh draft which means I have a long way to go.

Now, if I count the drafts from my first play (I am writing a novel from my three SPAM plays), I’m up to thirteen rewrites. I’m on my way, but still ‘not finished’.

So, I’ll go to my favorite writing spot and read, reread, write, and rewrite – maybe not the whole piece at one time, but surely certain parts.

I’m aiming for twenty-six rewrites now. Thanks Walter. Then, hopefully, I’ll be finished.

How about you? When are you finished?

 (I rewrote this piece in only eight drafts. (Make that nine drafts now.) It’s a short piece. I’m finished.)