Some of you may know the now famous Hemingway quote about rewriting.
Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
Interviewer: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?
Hemingway: Getting the words right.
(Ernest Hemingway, “The Art of Fiction” The Paris Review Interview, 1956)
Unfortunately some of us, myself included, take this advice and go crazy.
I mean like stark, raving, sitting in your underpants at 3am typing out your 7th draft of an email to you mother asking for the recipe for the delicious scones you ate as a child, crazy. And that’s just not good.
Perfection Can Be Bad
I know this because I am a perfectionist when it comes to writing. If I don’t control myself I will agonize over every single word. Then I will change it. Then change it again.
I spent an entire semester writing a short story for my Western Literature class. I must have rewritten the first paragraph at least a dozen times. Eventually I realized that my changes are not making the story better they are only making it different.
And we all know Einstein’s definition of insanity.
By the time I realized that I was insane the semester was winding down and I didn’t have the time that I wanted to spend on the rest of the story.
The result was an awesome hard hitting opening that quickly dissolved into bland prose.
If I would have just learned to curb my voracious rewriting I would have ended up with a much better over all story.
When you are working with tight deadlines like the end of a semester or Wednesday, if that’s when you need to publish your post, perfection is unattainable. Most of us just don’t have the time.
Maybe an incredibly dedicated full time blogger could crank out one or two perfect posts a week but not indefinitely. Eventually the effort would take its toll and they would burn out.
We all need to realize that every blog post doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. I’m not saying you should single-cheek it. But every blog post cannot be Farewell to Arms.
Should you strive to write the best post ever? Absolutely. But be realistic. If you have already have all the information and your point is made the just click publish. Let it go. It is fine like it is.
Are you a chronic rewriter? What do you do to keep it from crippling you? Or do you think I am totally wrong? Let me know in the comments.
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