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Don’t Edit While You Write

One of my favorite pieces of advice to get and give about writing is “don’t edit while you write.”

It’s harder than you might think to execute, because writers are both choosy and precious with words, and we want to get it right. It’s almost unconscious, our editing mid-type or mid-scribble. 

But, if we can’t get through the dang sentence, then what’s the point? So, we write first, the draft the uglier the better, and then we go back. So, try to quelch that urge to backspace, and instead let yourself finish the thought, stumble over the wrong word choice, and just get your idea down. 

Chances are, because we are always our own worst critic, that instantaneous edit holds you back and keeps the idea you’re trying to nurture from really stretching its wings.

It’s ok if what you write is bad. It’s ok if it’s ugly. And it’s definitely ok if you end up deleting it or leaving it on the proverbial shelf. What matters is that you let it out in the first place. That’s how we grow…by letting our ideas out fully before we clip their wings.

If you’re skeptical, try this: Write for 20 minutes and do your best not to self-edit as you go. Then put whatever you wrote in a drawer for ONE WEEK, just one week, and come back to it on a different day. I bet you it a) is better than you remember it and b) it’s easier to write in its full form.