From Kate’s Writing Crate…
The best way for me to write well is to write essays, columns, and posts as quickly as possible. Get down every idea. Capture the energy I feel about the topics on the page. I don’t worry about punctuation, perfection, or organization; I just write. This is the exhilarating part. Be fearless! It’s fun!
If I’ve interviewed someone for an article, I also write the first draft quickly as I weave the person’s quotes into my prose.
When I run out of thoughts while writing, I stare at the ceiling or out the window. If no new thoughts come to mind, I start to rewrite.
At this point, rewriting means I read my first sentence looking for unnecessary words and awkward phrases then omit or improve them. I move on to the next sentence and then the next until a new thought comes to me. Then I go back to writing.
I repeat this process until I reach my daily goal for long projects or “complete” the essay, article, column, or post by getting all my thoughts down.
But no piece is finished until I rewrite it.
Since I’m also an editor, I love this process. However, I wait at least a day, usually longer, before I focus on rewriting. Errors and awkwardness jump out at me when I work with fresh eyes.
Again, I reread my sentences omitting unnecessary words and rewriting or deleting phrases and sentences, but now I also look for clarity. I reorganize sentences and paragraphs as leads are often buried two, three, or more paragraphs into the piece.
Rewriting means letting go as well as improving what stays. I delete or save for another piece between a third and half of my work.
Then I concentrate on spelling, punctuation, and word choices. For ideas, I refer to The Synonym Finder by J. I. Rodale or the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus. (If interested in these books, see my post dated 6/9/2014).
Reading pieces aloud helps with rewriting, too. I’m often surprised when what reads well on the page doesn’t work when I listen to the words so I don’t skip this step.
Rewriting helps keep errors from living eternally in published pieces so it can be difficult to stop, but deadlines must be met. To submit the best work I can produce, I schedule in the time to put pieces aside then go back and rewrite them.
Be aware that rewriting takes more time than writing. I timed myself in a post dated 10/7/2013. Roughly, I spend one third of my time writing and two thirds rewriting.
I’ve never regretted a minute of the time I spent rewriting. It not only elevates my writing, it’s the mark of a professional.