“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open”
The last Vice-President of the Creative Writing Society was a bit obsessed with Stephen King. He was always trying to get us to read his book On Writing, claiming that it was one of the best books for a writer to read. I haven’t got round to reading that book (though I do intend to), but he did give us a quote from it once: “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
Before I went to university, I was always a little skeptical of taking writing advice. I’m not sure why; perhaps it always felt like taking advice would stifle my own creativity. I’ve been trying to change that, though, and when I’m given some advice now, I try to let it sink in, and this is one that I have been trying to pay careful attention to. It was certainly helpful during the Eternal War Trilogy Challenge, where most of the time I was writing in solitude. I have not started re-writing that yet, though, so that only serves as testimony to the first half of the quote.
As for the second half, I did rewrite a fanfiction while sitting in the kitchen of my flat at uni, surrounded by people who were having their own conversations, and I have to admit that it did help. I wasn’t thinking too much about ‘Ooh, I really like that bit, but it doesn’t really work, so I have to get rid of it, but I just don’t want to…’ and more about ‘This needs to be changed, so I’ll change that to this, and oh, someone just said something funny, what was it?’
Being slightly removed from the situation allowed me to look at the story with less of ‘This is my baby and I don’t want to change any of it’ to ‘This is a piece of work that needs improving and can be improved’; a more objective look on my own work.
It’s certainly one of the best pieces of writing advice I have ever been given, and I hope it helps others too.