You Can’t Edit a Blank Page
They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. We can say the same thing about writing: it’s better to write badly than to write nothing at all.
Jodi Picoult offers some insight that summarizes this idea in a clear, concise manner:
“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
Writing is a craft, not a science. There will be days when everything we write ends up in the recycle bin. There will be days when we have to rewrite every single word. On rare days, every word we type will be golden.
But most of the time, our best writing is achieved through a process of editing.
The Secret to Success
The secret to success for many writers is revision: the grueling do-overs, the painstaking edits, the nit-picky tweaks, and the total overhauls.
Most first drafts are garbage. That’s why we call them “rough drafts.” We sand and polish these drafts, over and over, until they are smooth and shining.
I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words (probably millions of words) that had to be thrown away. And I’ve written millions more that I’ve had to edit and rewrite. And I’ve coached writers through the drafting and editing processes. I’ve learned that the willingness to edit differentiates writers who publish their work from hobbyists who never seem to finish anything.
So give yourself permission to write badly, but then force yourself to do the hard work of revising, so you can produce a final draft that shines.
How much time do you spend editing? Do you find editing to be painstaking or pleasurable? How often do you rescue mediocre pages and buff them to polished perfection? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment.