Letting Go of Brilliant Dribble

February 12, 2008

It’s a funny thing about writing….  I don’t know if other people experience this.  I will write something, and come up with a super-spectacular sentence (or paragraph or phrase)– maybe something super thoughtful, or super colorful or super flamboyant, or some totally rockorzz cool  ending. 

Then I will go through my editing phase.  I’ll chop away at everything else, but leave this one bit of self-proclaimed genius completely raw so it can sit there and shake the world to bits.

I’ll keep chopping and chopping and trying to make the piece work.  Finally, way down the line, I’ll find myself face to face with the reality that the article or story is warped and shallow, and the reason is because of that one, stupid, over-emotional, over-written, over-dramatized, over-described piece of dribble that I was so completely head-over-heels in love with.  I do away with what I’d been desperately and irrationally holding onto for so many edits, and all of a sudden the rest of the piece relaxes and stops struggling with me.

I can’t even count the times this has happened to me.  It’s the whole “paradigm shift” thing that The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People talks about.  My mind gets into a mental block of thinking that the entire article should revolve around the brilliance of this one sentence.  Once I’m able to let go of the sentence, my head does a paradigm shift, and I’m able to see the article for something completely different.  It becomes much less focused on trying to manipulate the reader’s reactions and much more focused on conveying the story.


4 Responses to “Letting Go of Brilliant Dribble”

  1. TawnyHare said

    sometimes you just have to accept that ‘something else’ is writing through you; a higher consciousness (?) and go with the flow. It often surprises me when this happens, and time has passed without me realising it – then I say, how on earth did I write that piece?
    it rarely needs editing, just a few minor chages, and it IS a paradigm shift. No one sentence stands out, it all ‘just works’.

  2. lirone said

    I know exactly what you mean!

    It would probably be an excellent discipline for a writer to make sure that the first thing you do in editing a piece of writing is to strike out the sentence or phrase that you are most pleased with. Often saves time and embarassment!

    But I can never quite bring myself to do it… they always seem such wonderful phrases!

  3. Ned said

    You make me think of that famous line “Kill your little darlings.” In other words, strike out everything you like… but that’s an obvious point.

    The other more obscure point I wanted to make is how similar writing is to meditation in this way. You hold on to this one thing, this attachment. You think it’s so important and your life is warped and shallow because it’s wrapped around that one thing. Then one day, you let go…

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