Your fingers hover over the keyboard. You know what you should do, but you can’t bring yourself to do it.
Ah, yes: Editing. The dreaded word.
Don’t feel bad: it’s true for every author. No one’s thoughts and ideas appear on paper the exact way we imagine.
Especially in environments (your ENG II class, perhaps?) where teachers pressure you to use words! Words! Words! 200-word-count-essay! It’s hard to remember a writer’s greatest tool is knowing what to say, and sometimes, what not to say.
“The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?”
If you want to be a writer, it’s critical that you can look at your own writing in a completely objective way.
There are two stages of writing: the first stage, just letting your ideas flow. This can be easier. The second part is thinking, what is it I actually want to say, and what words are clotting the meaning of it?
The second part is more challenging, because it requires us to not just write, but to think about what we’re saying. When we isolate an idea, we need to mercilessly chop, replace, and cut excess words so our idea becomes clear.
It’s your writing. It’s not you.
Your writing doesn’t define you: you define your writing.
To make it easier–
- Isolate your main idea. What do you want to say? According to CS Lewis the job of a writer is to “know exactly what he is saying, and be sure he is saying exactly that.”
- Separate your words from yourself. Saying, “This is bad writing” is different than saying “I’m a bad writer.” The only way to become a good writer is to overcome being a bad writer.
- Think about how it will help your readers. What do you want them to take away? Do you want them to avoid a mistake you made? Or learn about you? Or share an idea you found helpful?
- Your readers have brains. Probably. For instance: as I was writing the beginning, I wrote:
“Ah yes: Editing. The dreaded word.
Don’t feel bad about it.”
Then, it occurred to me that my readers probably have brains and can probably know I’m talking about editing, so I erased “about it”. See? Remembering those things can improve your writing a lot.
What my idea is: Separate yourself from your writing. And attack your writing until it is perfect (or as close as possible.)
What my other idea is: Keep writing.