Rewriting

“Rewriting is the essence of writing well: it’s where the game is won or lost. That idea is hard to accept. We all have an emotional equity in our first draft; we can’t believe that it wasn’t born perfect. But the odds are close to 100% that it wasn’t.”

- William Zinsser in “On Writing Well”

Even a short email never goes out of my mailbox without a couple of rereads and some editing. A piece of writing is different from the spoken word because there is no body language, voice tone, or any other form of expression to go with it. The written word stands on its own. Therefore it is important to examine and edit it before sending it on its way. This is especially true when dealing with a conflict, a difference of opinion, or an emotionally charged situation.

Couldn’t this lead to analysis paralysis, with endless editing and rewording? My experience is that it does not. Depending on the length and sensitivity of the communication, it always helps to read and edit it a few times, till it feels right. It will never be perfect, but invest some time to make it better. The fact that you will be clearer, and be taken more seriously, makes the additional investment in time worthwhile.

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