Great writing is rewriting, so …

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Writing sages agree: great writing is rewriting.

This wisdom has practical implications. Get everything out of your head as fast as you can so you can begin rewriting as soon as you can.

The writing cycle

Write your first draft. You can’t do any rewriting until your ideas are out of your head and saved on a page or in a file.

Let your draft rest long enough that you will return to it with fresh eyes. The length will vary depending on what you’re writing.

Revise and edit. Stop when your revisions make the piece different but not better.

Publish short pieces right away. Send longer pieces, like a book, on to a professional editor.

If you’re writing a blog post

If you’re writing a blog post, adjust your writing process so you start early enough to revise your piece with fresh eyes and still publish on time. Rewrite vigorously. You may have to do your first draft a day or more earlier than you do now, at least that’s what I’ve experienced with myself and my clients.

If you’re writing a book

Write the whole book from beginning to end. Mark spots where you have questions. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. Get it out. Get it down.

Peter Drucker called this the “zero draft.” Ann Handley calls it “The Ugly First Draft (TUFD).” One of my early editors called it “The Vomit Draft.” Call it what you want. Just get everything out of your head and onto a page or into a file.

Let your draft rest until you can see it with fresh eyes. Then revise vigorously until your book is ready to send off to a professional editor.

Bottom Line

Great writing is rewriting. Get your first draft out of your head so you can start rewriting as soon as possible.

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