Stretching a sore muscle. Stepping into a hot shower after being out in the cold. A deep tissue massage.
All things that hurt, but hurt in a good way.
Sometimes writing is the same way. Things are hard, challenging, but there is a little bit of pleasure in your pain.
At least there should be.
The rewrites I’m working on hurt, like tears-in-the-eyes kind of pain. And right now, I’m only getting through them because I’ve thinking about them like physical therapy.
Have any of you guys ever had an injury? Major surgery? Then maybe you can relate. That first day of physical therapy is excruciating. The PT smiles at you and says, “Let’s check your range of motion.” Which really means, “Let me put your injured limb in a vice and jump on it a few times.”
(Totally not an exaggeration. When my sister tore her rotator cuff, the PT laid on her arm to get it to bend at a ninety-degree angle.)
You’re doing your best not to punch the PTs teeth down their throat. And then the say, “Let’s try this exercise.” They demonstrate pulling a rubber band that’s attached to the wall. Easy peasy.
Except that it’s not. Your arm quivers, your palms sweat. You want to move the damn rubber band ten times but by your fifth rep you’re shaking so badly that you don’t think your arm/leg/neck/whatever will ever work the way it’s supposed to. But the PT promises that even though it hurts, you’ll feel so much better later.
The thing that sucks is that they’re actually right. You walk (or limp) out of your appointment feeling a little less sore and with a little more flexible.
Rewriting is like that stupid rubber band. You think it can’t be that hard. But when it hurts so much to make the changes, you get halfway through and seriously consider quitting.
The point with physical therapy and revisions (or major rewrites) is that there is a change, and hopefully for the better. You suffer the pain, the cuts, the character kills, the plot hole fixes because you don’t want a gimpy story! You want a story that’s going to strut around and draw attention.
Getting better hurts. I just hope we can all find some joy in the pain.