Hemingway famously once said: “Write drunk, edit sober.”
And I think I agree with him.
No, I’m not encouraging alcohol consumption — especially not while working — but there is certainly some truth to Hemingway’s words.
If you take away the getting drunk part, Hemingway was basically saying write with abandon and bang out a first draft before taking a break. Then edit your work the next day with a clear head and fresh eyes.
Because it’s during the process of editing that the magic really happens.
Let’s take a closer look at how and why.
A first draft is just a draft
A good writer hones their craft over years and decades of work. But even a good writer can still produce a shitty first draft.
This means whether writing a website page, a tagline or an article, there is a high chance that the final version will not read like the first attempt.
At the very least, the copy will need to be tidied up and refined before it can be published or handed over to the client. In some cases, it might even have to be completely rewritten.
The important thing to remember is that it is just a first draft, so there is still plenty of time to create something better.
Review and rewrite
When editing, an obvious place to start is with spelling and grammar. But there are other elements to look out for too, such as:
- Is there an overuse of jargon?
- Could some words be replaced with simpler alternatives?
- How is the tone of voice?
- Does it meet the brief?
- And finally, does it actually make sense?
Try asking yourself these questions when sitting down to edit your work. It will make a huge difference to the final version.
If something in the draft really isn’t working, just cut it.
Don’t hold back. Be brutal and hit the delete key.
Instead, focus on what does work and expand on that.
Before you know it, you will have a pared back piece of writing — or what will lovingly become known as version two.