In life there are no do-overs
…but on the computer there’s the UNDO button. Its existence is the safety net under my bumbling DIY attempts to manage my own websites because I know I can reverse mistakes…that is, if I’m patient enough and willing to drop everything to get it right.
Last night I tried to tweak my primary site (it’s my name with dotcom at the end if you’re curious) and with one keyboard tap every photo resized itself, laying waste to my online presence. Of course I couldn’t leave it and just go to bed. Two hours later, it’s fixed, and I learned something. When you screw up in front of people, you do everything you can to correct your mistakes. When you screw up and nobody’s watching, you may not realize how badly you’re doing…or even that you’ve done anything wrong.
As a writer, sharing your work through writing classes, critique groups, and submitting it to journals, magazines and publishers provides you with feedback and advice. You learn what’s working and what misses the mark. You make yourself vulnerable, but you get better with each recommendation and rejection.
Writers have the benefit of implementing a series of do-overs every day.
We call it “editing.”
Sometimes you make only the necessary fixes, and sometimes you rewrite from beginning to end, but with every pass you improve your work and your odds of acceptance.
A good writing coach and/or editor is like a director working with an actor in preparation for a public performance. The role of the director is to have the actor’s back– to push for a stronger performance with every rehearsal so that when the time comes, there won’t be any screw-ups or humiliation onstage. When you’re under the lights, there’s nowhere to hide.
In comparison, you’re more fortunate as a writer, because you have the time to leisurely work out problems at your own pace without a deadline looming. In fact, writers do a lot of hiding…hibernating…working on our own, often because we’re afraid to go pubic until we think we’ve got it right. Here’s the deal:
Nobody gets it right the first time.
That’s why we call those early versions drafts. Every draft is essentially a do-over — a fresh start as you review what you’ve done so far.
Instead of dreading edits, welcome them. Look at it this way: given the chance to do it better, why wouldn’t you?
Photo courtesy of Felix Mooneeram / Unsplash.com