That post from last week is one of the most boring things I’ve ever written. I used every trick I knew to make it interesting, but I couldn’t make it work. After messing with it for about half an hour, I gave up and clicked Publish.
There was a time when I would have deleted it without a second thought, but this was a story I wanted to share and I thought it might be an interesting experiment. One positive side effect of this was I started seriously looking at how I write.
I try to write how I speak. Denise gave me a great compliment the other day when she left the comment “It’s so good to hear your voice again.” That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
As I write, I try to hear the words in my head. If a sentence or phrase doesn’t sound natural, I go back and rewrite it immediately. In some cases I rewrite parts of a sentence several times until I end up with something completely different.
I also sometimes write posts entirely in my head. If there’s a topic that I just have to write about, I will have most of it written before I ever touch the keyboard. An example of this would be my Continuous Improvement post from while back.
I am a fast typist. At one time I could probably think as fast as I type, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. I’m sure it’s just old age catching up with me.
I guess that’s why I tend to type a lot more words than are actually needed to express what I’m trying to say. My first drafts are filled with adjectives and adverbs that never make it to the finished product.
This might also go back to the days in high school when papers were graded on content as well as length. It’s almost like we were being taught that it takes a lot of words to make a point.
I make quite a few changes while I write, but once I have a complete first draft I really start editing. I spend at least as much time deleting, cutting, and pasting as I did writing. Most of those extra words I mentioned earlier disappear at this point.
I also look for words that don’t add anything to a sentence like “really” and “just”. For example, a sentence like “I really want to just write.” becomes “I want to write.”
While I’m editing I also like to preview how the post will look on the page. That way I can quickly spot paragraphs that seem too long. At this point sentences and paragraphs get moved around. Sometimes entire paragraphs disappear.
Once a post sounds like me, doesn’t contain too many extra words, and flows well on the page I click publish and see what everyone else thinks about it.