The First-Person Narrator That Is Me IV.

Text Farhad Babaei

Experimental Essays on Mental Elements in Creative Writing


Rewriting and distancing from the work are central concepts in creative writing. This section emphasizes the importance of rewriting and essentially polishing the initial draft. The initial draft is always frustrating and dissatisfying for both professional and amateur writers. This section discusses how much rewriting contributes to the enhancement and growth of a story and how, at each stage of rewriting, the writer gets closer to expressing everything they had in mind about the story. Rewriting and distancing from the work is essentially like an assembly line in a factory that has a circular and repetitive form.

This cycle continues until the writer ultimately sees their story in its perfected and completed form. This topic is the most careful essence and real concept of creative writing.

Part 4: Rewriting and Distancing from The Work

About twenty-five years ago, I attended a creative writing workshop where students would read their stories aloud to the group. After that, we would talk about those stories for hours and comment on them. This was an opportunity for us to edit our stories or make them a better version in the next rewrites.

My teacher used to allow each of the students to read the same story again after editing and rewriting. In this way, we realized how different a story was compared to the previous version, and its structure was changed according to the criticism and comments of others. Often at the beginning, we all got tired of having to rewrite the story because we had to come across the same words and sentences again. I felt that I had written the sentences and dialogues correctly and the plot and characterizations were created in the best way. So why should I change them?

But we all had to deal with this part of writing. My teacher used to say that the endpoint in your stories is not always correct and may be wrong. When I once asked him how I should find out if I put the endpoint correctly or not, he said that it depends on how much and in what quality you are satisfied with your work!

Well, as a new student in creative writing, I thought that if I had written a story and finished it, that meant I was satisfied, otherwise I wouldn’t read it anywhere.

But over time, when I finished a story, I remembered my teacher’s words: Does this story satisfy me and is it of the same quality? As a result, after some time I read it again and worked on it. The passage of time has a great effect on the Rewriting process. As far as I can remember, I never published my early stories because after a while I could see how much my perspective had changed. Little by little I realized that something magical happens in Rewriting. I would read the sentences and sometimes change the dialogue. Since I was reading it, I could see that the other students in the workshop had a positive opinion of my story. When I was reading a book, I felt that there were many versions behind it that no reader knew about, and the author could only see the cut versions. This is one of the cases that the author deals with alone and only himself understands the process of improving the quality of his story. In fact, like many mental elements in creative writing, it is invisible, and it is an internal challenge.

Rewriting is the unseen hero of the creative writing process, often overlooked but extremely impactful on the quality and depth of a story. It allows writers to Enhance Clearness and logicality, Developing Characters, Refine Language and Style, develop Plot and structure, and Deepen Themes and Symbolism.

Rewriting plays a crucial role in creative works, as it has the power to transform a writer’s perspective.

However, I believe that one of the main Attributes of this concept is suffering.

I remember Søren Kierkegaard’s quote: “There are two ways to live: one can either suffer or become the master of others‘ suffering.“ I think in rewriting, an author always becomes the master of his suffering! I must challenge myself repeatedly with my words. I must move away from the field and then come back. Like a boxing match that has many rounds. My opponent is the one who was before but, in every round, I kick differently and change my kick punch. I continue again and again, as soon as my opponent is knocked out, I will be the first one satisfied.

Rewriting is the process of revising and refining written material to improve its quality, good sense, and effectiveness. It involves analyzing every aspect of the work, from the overall structure to the detail of language and style. Unlike the initial draft, which is often marked by automatic and raw creativity, Rewriting demands a self-critical eye and a willingness to disassemble and rebuild. A writer does a kind of reaction that he used to in facing an idea. There, he had faced an idea, like an undeveloped creature, but here in this field, he is going to face the same creature that needs some cleaning and polishing to change into an acceptable and good enough one.

The journey from a first draft to a final version is often difficult, but rewriting is the atmosphere in which a story truly comes to life. It helps writers identify shortages in the plot, allowing them to reorganize and reconfigure the narrative for maximum impact. It enables writers to develop their ideas. It provides an opportunity to block irregularity in the plot for maximum impact.

One of the best performances that happens in this field, is when the characters go from flat sketches to fully developed characters with depth and detail. The deeper, more tangible, and believable. In the first draft, the author wrote without paying attention to prose, technique, and language. This applies not only to beginner writers but also to professional writers who often find the first draft unacceptable. As Hemingway says the only type of writing is rewriting.

Perhaps the author didn’t know why he was writing in such a way. He was just hearing voices within his mind and writing them on paper. Almost all writers are discouraged with their initial draft because when they review it, there’s much work to be done. To me, this is a kind of natural disorder. This is not a fault but rather the nature of the initial draft that discourages the writer. It is created to be discarded and replaced by another version.

There’s no fixed number for doing rewriting, and it can happen several times. Throughout the writing process of the first draft, it is as if the author is always searching for a piece of stone to sculpt. They first find a suitable stone for their idea and then take it to their workshop. They know that something will appear through this stone eventually.

In the rewriting process and the subsequent steps, the less the author visits their previous footsteps and paths they’ve already taken, the more they’re moving to new places and bringing down new hammers on their stone. To fall in love with the first draft, will keep the authors away from getting a good story. This is like facing the first idea. There, as I told in the idea chapter, an author must know and learn how to face the first thoughts. there is no difference it could be an idea or the first draft.

The first draft is kind of an initial idea but on a larger scale. Rewriting is not merely a technical exercise but a deeply psychological process that can have a deep impact on a writer’s mindset and creative identity.

Rewriting requires knowing that the path to excellence is possible with countless revisions. On the other hand, rewriting encourages writers to engage in reflection and self-examination, challenging them to confront their bigotry, preconceptions, and blind spots. It fosters a deeper understanding of one’s craft and creative process, leading to personal growth and mind development.

It can imbue a sense of confidence in writers as they witness the gradual evolution of their work from rough drafts to polished text. Each revision brings them closer to realizing their artistic vision, supporting their belief in their abilities and creative potential. I always face a nightmare after writing the initial draft: Well, so what? What’s the meaning of this story? What would have happened if I hadn’t written it? These questions are both dangerous and fundamental.

Whenever a writer asks himself these questions, he/she becomes fearful. However, these interrogative words are the ones that advance and expand the plot of the story. Where, why, and for whom events occur and what the outcome will be. These questions once turned one of my short stories into a blank canvas, which I thought was complete and finished. Through multiple rewrites, I completely changed its background. I had written a short story and had rewritten it several times, but I still felt that something was wrong.

I checked everything and each time I found new things in the setting and location of the story. After a while, in one of the rewrites, I felt that the setting and location of my story needed to be larger than what I had written. If I were to give a cinematic example, it would be like the camera traveling and following the characters, until the cameraman, based on the narrative line in that scene, decides on an endpoint for it. So, the camera ends its movement. But in the area where my story took place, the camera had to move a lot more, and subsequently, the story continued. There, outside the frame of the initial drafts, a novel’s territory was waiting for me.

But it was clear that the plot I had, was not suitable for a novel. I went back to my notes. I also referred to the observation room. Seeing some things, new ideas entered my mind. All of these were things that grew and developed with each rewriting. I mean, the initial draft is highly suspicious even in terms of volume and literary range! Now, a crucial point that arises at the beginning of rewriting, in my opinion, is the act of distancing oneself from the work and writing. When a writer finishes prose, whether it’s a short story or a novel, they are essentially in a state like fade out, or the fading out of the final scene of a movie. However, they are supposed to return to that scene after a while and roll a better action. In this process, by stepping away from the writing, the writer takes a moment to cut off and rest.

A writer needs to distance from the draft to lighten his memory and organize it. It’s like rebooting a computer system. A writer needs to step away from his writing because it generates a greater willingness to get back to it. A writer needs to step away from his writing to avoid making rash decisions. In my opinion, the initial draft is somewhat angry, sudden, careless, and largely empty of creativity. A writer needs to step away from his writing for multiple rewrites and let time work its magical effect on his mind. Gaining better spirit, reviewing initial ideas, and recharging creativity.

Stepping back from the text and returning to it largely edits and corrects the writer’s blind bigotry. When you step away from your writing, you find the opportunity to understand the rule-breaking and mistakes you made while telling the story in a hurry. In rewriting and distancing from your various drafts, you become a democratic individual. If you act like a dictator and think that what you’ve written is holy and correct, you never allow yourself to reconsider or listen to new and forgotten voices and minorities.

I’ll give an example that somewhat describes the form and shape of stepping away and Rewriting. It’s just like playing with a boomerang. When you throw the boomerang, it goes away and then it comes back to you, and you grab it again. When the boomerang returns to your hands, you are no longer the person you were a few seconds ago. One reason for this is that time has passed, and you were standing at a point and watching its path, waiting for it to come back. In those few seconds, you may think about many things: returning the boomerang, how to catch it in your hands without hurting your fingers.

When you grab it in your hands and throw it again, you do so with a different form and a different power.

Eventually, during Rewriting, you reach a point where you’ve made the best and most beautiful throw of the boomerang, which means you’ve found the final form of your story in your opinion. English author, Terence David John Pratchett has a great quote. “The first draft is just you are telling the story to yourself.”

I certainly felt this quote after every single story that I wrote. I always feel that my story is telling something to myself, and I am not telling the main story unconsciously. But why?

I believe that the author writes based on the ideas in their mind, but they need to remember that they are writing for an audience and not just for themselves. With each rewriting and distancing from the story as well, an author can keep away from himself more and so he approaches more to tell his story for readers.

This article is the first part of an abridged excerpt from the unpublished book „The First-Person Narrator That Is Me,“ originally written in Persian and translated into English for publishing an

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