Another Writer Writing About Writing



Writing is like sculpture. Your first draft is the rough shape, quickly hewn and hastily fashioned. Here you are feeling your way through an idea, swiftly translating thoughts into form before they dissipate, or you lose your nerve and talk yourself out of your conviction.

As you go back and work your draft, you’re reshaping and refining. This is the majority of your labour. You shift and fix and hack out great chunks to transport elsewhere, or even to do away with entirely in order to tidy up your vision. You may do this ten times, it may be a hundred times. It is likely to be more times than you would hope necessary and you will encounter a point where you doubt everything. You will read back your words and find in horror that you’re actually not very good: your concept is poor, your skill overestimated. However, you must pray that this phase comes early and when it comes you must push through, until you find yourself mildly surprised at your genius. You will find a solid form in front of you. It will make sense and you will smile.

And then you must polish.

Do not overlook this crucial task in order to just get it done and get it out there. A lacklustre finish will undermine the overall integrity of your work. Proof-read over and over, out loud, and on different screens until you can stand by every character and punctuation mark.

Then, and only then, is your piece ready for the critical eyes of strangers and the indifferent sniffs of the masses. Even if they hate it, it will stand.

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