I once read a quote by a writer that said, “Writing is rewriting.” At the time I came across the quote, it really didn’t make too much sense to me. Yes, I had a faint idea the message the writer was trying to pass across. To my budding writer mind, what that quote simply meant was that rewriting is important. It would take for me to start writing seriously for me to fully grasp the full extent of that quote. Rewriting is not just an important step in writing, it is, of a fact, the REAL WORK! It is what writing is actually about.
As Ernest Hemingway rightly said, “Every first draft is shit.” It takes rewriting to fix them. If first drafts were all it took to be writers, then the art and act of writing would in no way be sacred. In my opinion, what separates writers from the rest is the discipline of rewriting. And, also, what makes writers better than each other is rewriting. Trust me, even your favorite writers first drafts are a complete mess, a hot pot of beans.
Rewriting entails fine tuning your rough ideas, ensuring they look their best before they are received by other eyes. A simple human activity you can liken this to is picking an outfit when your options are vast. Even when you settle for one, you still have it at the back of your mind that with the number of options available to you, you could come up with something better. The same thing applies to writers and rewriting. There are numerous ways to phrase the same ideas. That is why you can have two writers approach an idea from the same angle and still end up with differing results. In fact, if you have the same writer treat an idea twice, there is a very high probability of him phrasing differently but still sticking to his message. And it is for this reason that rewriting can sometimes become a trap.
Rewriting is good, but at some point you have to move on. Yes, your work could still be better, in fact, there will always be a chance for improvement. But at the end of the day, there is no right way to write. All that matters is that if feels right to you. Is what you have good enough? It doesn’t necessarily have to be your best. Just ensure that it meets your standard. Don’t get caught in the trap of rewriting.
Of late, I have noticed that my drafts incresing. Why so? Because I have subconsciously allowed myself become repeatedly stuck at the rewriting stage. Unsatisfied with how good they are, hoping to get them to their possible best, I have shelved a lot of posts. I have started work on many new drafts without first publishing the ones before them. I have subconsciously begun to obsess over the better options. And it is this realization that inspired this post.
This post is an experiment to free myself from the fetters of rewriting. I set out to write this post with the intention of publishing it as close as it possibly can be to the first draft. Not worrying my head about perfection – of course, grammatical errors would not go unedited. So, if this post reads like shit to you, it is because it was intended to be shit.