The 10 Minute Rewrite

Filed under: experiments,thoughts Topics: ,

Write it in 10 minutes. Rewrite it in 10. If it’s successful, publish.

French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery once noted: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” If you want to reduce cruft in your prose, limit your writing time. You’ll get to the point much more quickly when you don’t have time to do much else.

While haste yields wordiness, it’s easily corrected. You’re no longer reigning in ill-born concepts that have threaded themselves deep within your thesis: when you write quickly, those tangents don’t have time to stifle your point for very long. Eradicate them, ruthlessly! Take away anything that doesn’t directly contribute to your point. Rewrite if confusing.

Give yourself too much time to write and you’ll get cute—you’ll be more concerned with style rather than with clarity. But, pressure fosters creativity: force yourself to get to the point and your brain will wordsmith a clever way to express whatever it is you want to say. You might surprise yourself how artful you can be.

This post was rewritten from the former in 10 minutes. How’d I do?