Writing Tip #1: How to First-Draft Smarter

“Write drunk, edit sober,” is a famous quote. It is too pithy to be real. They attribute it to Hemingway. He never said it. He wrote short sentences. Those are always better. This is fun to read. Long stuff is not fun to read.

Ugh, now that I have that out of my system—let’s talk about editing.

When I’m looking at an empty page, I long for a perfect first draft. Whether I love or hate the words as they’re coming out, I know they will change. They will be rewritten. Editing will improve them. First-draft words are just temporary stand-ins for the real words that will come later. They’re not there to stay. They’re there to tie down the ephemeral ideas flitting around in the ether.

But that being the case, what in tarnation is editing? It is just writing, again. The words that were the first draft go away, and new words are written. That’s not “editing;” that’s just draft-two-ing and draft-three-ing. It’s horribly inefficient.

Better to have started with the good words in the first place, say I.

So here’s my writing tip, in case you were wondering: start with draft two, or even three. Don’t bother writing draft one; it’s usually no good.

This is me taking my own advice and writing a perfect first-draft by skipping right to the third draft.

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