Sunday, March 05, 2017

Stay with the first flash

I’ve written three dozen books books, and there isn’t a single one of them that doesn’t have at least one typo. 

Not because I have incompetent editors or negligent designers. Not because I’m playing a game to see if my readers can find them. Not because I’m leaving an imperfect stitch in the rug as a crack where the light comes in. 


But because editing is redundant, expensive, labor intensive and frankly, not noticeable in the final product anyway. And in my creative work, I’m aiming for volume, not perfection. 


My goal is to tell the truth and move on, not drudge over proper grammar and correct structure and effective persuasion.


That’s just how I’m wired. I’m not the kind of person who romanticizes the misery of racking his brain for just the right word, just the right turn of phrase, just the right hint of nuance. 


The idea of spending an hour toiling over the perfect sentence to make my art fifteen percent better makes my stomach hurt. 


It doesn’t matter. Detail work is for the birds. 


Goldberg’s book on living the writer’s life puts it perfectly:


Most people live in the realm of second thoughts, third thoughts and thoughts on thoughts, rather than in the realm of first thoughts. But if we want to build an effective writing practice, we shouldn’t think. We should stay with the first flash. It’s more honest. First thoughts, best thoughts. Every iteration after that is simply a watered down translation that shaves away another millimeter of genuine thought, another edge of reality that would have made your work come alive.


If you’re still stuck on the seventh draft, you’re not editing, you’re hiding. You’re lying. To yourself and everyone who reads your work. 


Let’s stop pretending you’re committing an act of virtue here. 


Enough patting yourself on the back for how meticulous and detail oriented you are. It’s good enough. Stop tilling the same earth. Put your red pen away. Ship it today. And move onto the next one tomorrow. 


Because life’s far too interesting to edit yourself. 


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* * * *

Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
www.nametagscott.com


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