- Interviewer: How much rewriting do you do?
- Hemingway: It depends. I rewrote the ending of Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, 39 times before I was satisfied.
- Interviewer: Was there some technical problem? What was it that had stumped you?
- Hemingway: Getting the words right.
Because we’re always so busy at work there’s a tendency to believe there isn’t time to “get the words right.” But the right words can be the difference between understanding and confusion. The right words can change opinions or sell entire programs. The right words can move people. When renowned author Toni Morrison learned that her book, Paradise, was banned in some areas because it might spark riots, she said she reflected for a moment and then thought, “How powerful is that.” What can your writing spark?
The first draft of anything always needs work. Authors often write the first draft and walk away, coming back to see it with fresh eyes. When coming back to your second, third or fourth draft, ask yourself:
- Does the message I have written here properly reflect the message in my head and heart?
- Does my writing show any biases that I might have missed in the first draft?
- Is this writing tight, fluid and logical or long, wandering and confusing?
- Will these words move someone or bore them?
Don’t just make your writing informative, make it transformative.