My sister’s into Pentatonix; and by “into” I mean obsessed. For those of you who aren’t immersed enough in the world of modern music, they’re an a-capella group with five members, who somehow manage to sound like a heck of a lot more than five people.
The first song I heard her listen to, some two years ago, was their cover of Daft Punk. It compiles a lot of their work, beginning with an expert from Technologic. This is one of my personal favorites of their work, because the repetition of this cycle of working towards a great electronic piece is something I can relate to.
I feel like we’ve all been there at some point, even if it’s only for a school project. You hit a eureka moment, your fingers flying across the keyboard faster than it registers in your brain. The sound of clicking keys fits together the pieces in your head and wow this is great. No, really, this is going to be one of the best pieces ever written, better than J.K. Rowling, better than Steven King, better than Shakespeare himself. This? This is the Mona Lisa of personal narratives. The David of story chapters. You? You are a writing Einstein, you are the Zeus of Nonfiction Columns. What you are writing is golden.
And then you hit the last key, and you feel a sense of accomplishment wash over you. You feel that self-satisfaction? That personal victory? Go ahead. Sink into it. Swim in it, enjoy it while it lasts. Because then comes the next part.
Going back and reading what you’ve written.
Wow. This is garbage.
I can’t be the only one who’s faced the disappointment of realizing the genius I created in my head didn’t translated onto paper. It actually all but infuriating, at least for myself, because I refuse to do the idea anything but justice. I have been known to rewrite things twelve times in a row before finally deciding to move on. Most of the time, I will scrap entire pieces because they don’t have the mood I want them to have.
The cycle doesn’t seem to end. Whether it’s my free writing or my journalistic columns, I refuse to get some of the point across. I want the readers to see everything I see. It’s presented more than a few problems with frustration, and deadlines, definitely deadlines, self-set or for a project with a due date.
It’s ridiculous, however, to suggest that this editing process is too extensive to be successful. I’ve been sitting here, writing this particular blogpost, for a few hours now, not strung together, but spread out over several days. That doesn’t mean I’m getting caught up on all the irrelevant details, it means I have a vision. I know exactly what I want this to look like in the end. Refusing to settle for less is really just refusing to call something that’s good, great, refusing to say something is the best I can do when I know it’s not.
You are supposed to hate the first draft. If you think what you came up with right out of the gate is perfect just the way it is, you’re not doing it right. You’re not thinking right. You’re first draft is never your best; you can always do better, and if you convince yourself that you can’t, you’re depriving yourself of your own potential.
Think up an idea and sit down to put it on a screen, or scrawl it across a paper.
Hate it. Loath it.
Scrap it. Tear it. Burn it. Shred it.
Rewrite it. Rephrase it. Recreate it. Perfect it.
One more time.