Writing Thoughts: Stuck in a Re-Writing Cycle

I’m Stuck in a Re-Writing Cycle

Posted May 25, 2022 by Amber in Writing / 9 Comments


I really love to write. I don’t always have the time for it, but every time I’m able to sit downpour long enough to fall into a story, I’m swept away. I love to tell the stories and create the characters. I have hundreds of story ideas. But realistically? I zero manuscripts that are truly completed and ready for query. Sure – I’ve finished first drafts on many! But I can’t seem to get past that point.

See: Fate.

For those who check-in on my monthly wrap ups, I have a section to share writing updates. Since my crit partner and I have started to make it a regular thing, I am at least writing. But Fate is not a new story. In fact, I’ve been writing, re-writing, and evolving it since 1999.

Yeah, that’s not a typo. I’ve re-written this story at least half a dozen times, including three times from beginning to end. I’ve gotten rid of characters and added new ones. I think in this draft, I found a place to add an old one back? I feel like each iteration of the story tells me something new about the characters and the world, so to me, they all have value. But every time I finish and go back to edit again… I find myself re-writing the story again.

Sometimes I wonder if this is a “me” problem or if other people find themselves stuck in a re-writing cycle. Surely I’m not the only one so enamored of the writing process that I find myself stuck in the storytelling? Sometimes I wonder if it’s a psychological thing – fear of failure if I query or needing to maintain control over my world that keeps me from looking at a draft and saying “there’s nothing more I can do. It’s ready.” It never feels ready.

Do any other writers run into this conundrum?

send me your thoughts

Are you currently working on a manuscript?

If so, what stage are you in?

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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9 responses to “I’m Stuck in a Re-Writing Cycle

  1. Oh you are most definitely not alone in this! Meredith Crosbie (one of my favorite writers) has been struggling with this in one of her stories. And, as someone who’s been working on one of my current WIPs for a few years now, I absolutely struggle with the idea of when something is “done” or “ready”.

    • Amber

      Ugh, thank you. Can you believe that after I wrote this post, I actually went back and rewrote chapter one again because I had an idea with a beginning that flowed better? I swear, it’s a trap. It’s really nice to know others who are similarly struggling. <3

  2. Ammitos

    You have me beat by a small margin–I started my WIP in 2005! I never finished, worked sporadically on it over the years, and have constantly been rewriting parts. I’ve had to learn how to plot and story structure. It took joining a writing group, sharing some of my work, and setting my goal to start querying in 2023 for me to push aside my perfectionism and make forward progress. Trust and believe that you aren’t alone!

    • Amber

      That is so exciting! 2023 is so close! Are you nervous? Excited? A little of both?

      Part of me thinks I’m too in love with my characters and my idea to part with it, and that’s why I keep punishing myself and making sweeping changes. I am my own worst enemy. 😛

  3. As a career writer … First in institutional media relations, then in journalism, poetry, fiction, and playwriting (I know it usually goes in a different progression, but that has been my arc) I would suggest that there is a time to fish and a time to cut bait. Of course it is always up to you, the writer, but there comes the time to let your creation go out into the daylight and find it’s niche. Unless, of course you are content to be a private author and have your niche be in the realm of the posthumous.

    • Amber

      Hello Laurence! You’re absolutely correct – we often get into our own way and there comes a time where we either need to set the work aside or send it out in the world. I’m still struggling with that myself, but always glad to receive good advice. 🙂

  4. Steven Nikosey

    Greetings Amber, I can relate and empathize a bit with the endless rewriting. For me it is a source of frustration. I have had to shelve one project in particular many times due to the futility of this seeming interminable process. For me it is a matter of never getting the story to the point where it needs to or should be, especially after all the time spent and energy expended. From what I am hearing it sounds like you are more patient with your project and process than I am with mine. Patience is still a virtue. I wish for the best outcome for you and your work.

    • Amber

      Thank you Steven! You know, I think it’s that I’m in love with the work and it takes a lot for me to fall out of love. 🙂 Patience is certainly a virtue I *don’t* have with my writing. I envy the writers who know where they are going from the moment they sit down to start the story. You’re right, that point of “it’s ready” is a struggle. I wish you the best with your project(s) as well!