Revise, Revise, Revise – and Revise Again

Here’s a famous quotation from Blaise Pascal’s Provincial Letters: “I have made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short.”

That probably sounds as odd to you as it did to me when I first read it. Why would writing less take longer than writing more?

The answer can be found in that magical (or painful, depending on how you look at it!) word revising.

For most people (certainly for me), first drafts tend to be long, loose, and rambling. Unwanted ideas creep in. There are detours and side trips.

Blaise Pascal (a famous French mathematician and philosopher) knew that good writing = rewriting. And it’s here that the distinction between poor writers and the real pros becomes apparent.

Unskilled writers tend to stop with that awkward, error-ridden first draft. Professional writers, on the other hand, keep plugging away until they’ve come up with something they can be proud of.

How full is your wastebasket? Poor writers have an empty wastebasket; good writers discard so many drafts that the wastebasket quickly starts to overflow.

If you use a computer, how many times did you hit that delete key? If the letters on your keyboard are starting to wear off from overuse, that’s a sign that you’re a serious writer.

(Maybe you’re wondering how many times I revised the post you’re reading right now. One lovely feature of WordPress – the posting system I use – is that it keeps track of my revisions. The total number today is 21.)

office wastebasket full of discarded paper


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