My attention was drawn the other day to a blog by a friend and writing group partner of mine. As soon as I read it, I knew I wanted to share it because it’s about how writers (and other creative people, presumably) are never satisfied with their work. Imagine my surprise when I returned to that post only to find that Caroline had completely edited the text, while leaving the original in place via strikethrough, thus further demonstrating the principle.
The original blog, which is the version crossed out on the post now, was good and worthy of comment because it highlighted a particular mania of the creative personality. For writers, this disorder frequently displays as an inability to ever declare a piece of writing done. You know, good enough just isn’t. But editing itself is definitely necessary. Writing is rewriting. So how do you know when to stop, when the thing is done?
Caroline’s second version is much longer and turns the tone around completely. Taken together, the two versions demonstrate a writer’s process for revision, and it’s altogether sort of beautiful. As Caroline’s comment below the post indicates, it’s intended as a sort of dialogue with herself about the editing process. I’m left to wonder if she might continue to revise and edit so that what you see when you visit could be different still from what I’m commenting on. In any case, you should definitely check it out: Now Stop Messing With the Site OR Fun With Strike-Throughs.
At some point, we all have to decide that a piece of writing or other creative project is finished. (Or at the very least, finished for now.) It’s nice if you have a deadline to work toward, whether a submission date to meet or something you’ve imposed on yourself. Without deadlines, the revision and reworking process can go on indefinitely.
I’d be interested to hear from other writers about what they use to stamp done on a given project. Deadlines, or something else? How much feedback from others do you elicit and how much weight do you place on their comments and suggestions? Is there some indefinable moment when all the parts align to give you a certain feeling of completion? Leave a comment below; I’d be glad to hear from you.
Follow B. K. Winstead on Twitter at @bkwins