Writing and Writing Well.

‘The difference between eating well and eating poorly is only a couple of dollars. And the difference between writing well and writing poorly is only a few minutes.’

I made this statement to a bunch of people in a writing class a few years ago and, as expected, earned a sea of wide eyes. But I had got their attention. 

You see, the connecting factor here is time. If you race down to the local fish ‘n’ chippy, grab two small pieces of fish of dubious origin, a bunch of fries, a pot of oily sauce, and a couple of sugar and caffeine laced soft drinks, what have you got? A quick meal, of course, albeit dripping in saturated fats and other questionable ingredients. That’s quite a bargain for $22.

Let’s play that again on a different instrument. Go to the supermarket and pick out two immaculate Atlantic salmon pieces, a handful of green beans, and a couple of washed potatoes. Throw the salmon into a non-stick frying pan, cover and cook on medium for eight minutes. At the same time nuke the potatoes for seven minutes and beans for four. Serve with a splosh of light sour cream on the potatoes and, Voila! You have just created a nutritious, healthy, filling and upmarket meal for how much – $18.

Oops, I forgot something – a drink. Now you can push the boat out and enjoy a couple of glasses of reasonable wine for $2.50 each, to bring the total meal cost to $23.

So, what’s this got to do with writing? Well, the great meal was $1 more than the crap one. The real difference was the investment in time. You had to go to the supermarket and then cook the stuff.

To make writing good, you have to invest your time. The first draft may be easy, but that’s all it is – a first draft. It has to be revisited, often a number of times. You must be prepared to pick over it, rewrite parts, think again, and delete stuff. That’s the difference between good writing and bad.

And when you’re happy with it, let a fellow wordsmith take a crack at it. Sure, at first there’ll be tears. It does hurt a bit (a lot to tell you the truth). But the end result is cleaner, clearer, and sometimes quite marvellous. It’s worth it.

Eventually the process becomes quicker and easier. Soon you’ll be hammering out great stuff as you throw another piece of salmon into the pan.

Now, where’s that lemon? Bugger, I forgot the lemon. Anyone got a …

Michael Collins, https://mcmemoirs.com.au/

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