Writing, i.e., typing words, is important, but it’s just one step of the process for communicating. The next step is editing. Your ability to communicate well depends on editing. Here are two “days” of instruction from 300 Days of Better Writing that address the importance of editing.
Day 103: Major Writing Process—Editing
Let me give you three quotes that are particularly appropriate here (one of which you have already seen).
- It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly. (C. J. Cherryh)
- Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it’s where the game is won or lost. (William Zinsser)
- Rewriting is called revision in the literary and publishing trade because it springs from re-viewing, that is to say, looking at your copy again—and again and again. (Jacques Barzun)
After you write, put away your document. Leave it long enough so that you may see it without preconceptions and without remembering what you were thinking at the time. Then look at it again. Does it satisfy your purpose? Have you communicated clearly? Can you make it more concise without losing essential content? Are the ideas logically presented? Keep criticizing it, refining it, until it is as good as it can be. Then give it to others (perhaps your editor) to evaluate.
Here’s the primary point: Your first draft will need editing. The editing process is what will make your document an effective communication tool, regardless of the genre.
Here’s the secondary point: If others recommend (or make) changes, don’t be offended. First drafts will always need improvements.
Day 140: Good writing is about attitude—and editing.
Good writing will permit your readers to concentrate on your ideas, and may help you to give the impression that you know what you are talking about . . . My formula for good writing is simple: once you decide that you want to produce good writing and that you can produce good writing, then all that remains is to write bad stuff, and to revise the bad stuff until it is good. (Marc Raibert)
This long quote discusses three important concepts.
- What is good writing? Because your readers can forget about you and focus, instead, on your ideas, they will believe in your authority to discuss those ideas. They respect you because they can ignore you.
- What personal characteristics are necessary to produce good writing? You desire to write well, so you are willing to do the necessary work. You believe you can write well, so you know that the work will succeed.
- What is the work of writing well? Rewriting until the writing is great.