I Hate Reading What I've Written
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I Hate Reading What I've Written

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I Hate Reading What I've Written
The Efa

I'm an outliner. I almost never write seat-of-the-pants style, where you tackle the first draft head-on, without any planning to back you up, and often, no idea of where the piece is headed. I prefer a specific kind of outlining—the Snowflake Method, to be precise—that allows me to know what I'm going to write before I ever start the first draft, and ensuring that my first draft will end up more or less like what I want the final product to look like.

That's not to say that editing isn't a part of the process, because it is. Generally, I'd say there's probably less editing for outliners than for pantsers, but it really comes out to the same amount of work. They're just two different styles. Neither is wrong.

One side effect of being an outliner, though, is that I always feel that my first draft ought to look like I imagined the outline to be in my head. Like it should be perfect, because I know what I want to write, so I should just be able to write it, right? Wrong. Words are communication, and communication can be complex. It's natural to need to rewrite, and rewrite a lot. Editing is necessary.

I know that, mentally. But since I'm obsessed with this idea of perfection, I don't like seeing myself write anything that I know needs a lot of work to perfect. I can write up a good outline and type up a first draft, but after that, I often stall.

I never want to reread what I've written, lest I see all the ways in which I'm deficient.

There's only one cure for this, really. To do it anyway and edit away, knowing that through work, the writing will improve. Perfection on the first draft was never the goal, and will likely never be the reality. My perception of my writing is clouded by the picture I have in my head of what I meant to say.

So often, I lay a piece of writing down in disgust, only to come back to it months—or sometimes, years—later, only to realize that it just needed a little work and could become something much better. I'm always shocked by how much difference a little time can make in my perception of my own work.

Writing and editing are both vitally important to my personal well-being, and neither is something I feel I could readily give up.

Following these passions requires a lot from me, just as following any passion requires a lot from anyone. One thing that's required is courage. The courage to look at what I've written, even when all I see are the flaws, and to craft it into something beautiful.

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