Writing is Rewriting

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Editing is the hardest part of any pursuit, which is why it’s also the most important. Whether it’s a song, a script, an article, or even just an email, there’s nothing quite as arduous as the process of taking your first attempt and making it better.

Editing is hard for plenty of reasons:

  • it’s long, repetitive, solitary, and tedious
  • it doesn’t create the same joy of accomplishment that first drafts do
  • it involves looking closely at the parts of your work that suck

Kill your Darlings

This is really common advice to writers: get rid of the things you most enjoy if they aren’t helping your piece overall. Some honest criticism is extremely useful for this, but oftentimes it falls on you to be your own critic, and rip out the parts of the thing you made that aren’t serving their purpose.

Kill your not-Darlings too

I saw a tweet from a startup-guy (there’s no good title for them, is there) about how thought/idea backlogs are a bad practice, because you shouldn’t keep track of all your thoughts. The good ones are going to reappear often enough that you have to pay attention to them. The ones that aren’t as strong will fall away.

He’s talking about having ideas for entrepreneurial ventures, but I immediately saw a business and art connection here. When I wrote songs regularly, one of the best practices I had for editing was to hide my lyrics at the bottom of my desk drawer, and try to recreate the song from memory several days later. The effect is the same: the good lyrics stay top-of-mind and can be easily recreated, the sloppy or filler lyrics are forgotten and have to be replaced.

This great tweet from deepfates hits on the same principle:


I want to read and factor in this article at some point

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