Write Like There’s No Tomorrow. Then Edit

By Daniel Scocco

I must confess that I used to do this mistake. When trying to write an essay or article, I would stop every few seconds to edit the last sentence. Often times I would also go back to the beginning and read the whole piece before writing further.

I just wanted every word and phrase to be perfect before going forward. The result, however, was a very inefficient writing method.

What would be a better approach? Simple, write like there’s no tomorrow, and edit it later. Now a days I have a rule to never hit the backspace while I am on writing mode. It is difficult to get used to it, but once you get that flow you’ll be able to ignore even the typos.

Not that you shouldn’t care for them, but you don’t want the typos interfering with your creative ideas. First, get everything that is in your mind into the computer screen. Afterwards you can correct grammatical mistakes and edit the structure of the sentences.

It looks like an easy trick, but it can do wonders to improve your productivity. If you want more tips on how to focus on the writing part, read “How to Bypass Your Internal Editor.”

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30 Responses to “Write Like There’s No Tomorrow. Then Edit”

  • David Zemens

    What a great suggestion! I am a very fast typer, but my accuracy is not quite as good as my typing. Without giving it much though before, I know realize that I spend a considerable amount of time backspacing and being less than productive.

    Thanks for the suggestion. Now I have to leave and go write like there’s no tomorrow!

  • Vikram

    How very true Daniel!

    This is something that I had thought about as well, but you have put the thoughts in words in a concise way. This is also something I am learning form your tips!

    Yet Again, Great Tip! 🙂

  • CompuWorld

    same problem here..

    the only thing is if I end up writing the article than it keeps hitting me..publish it…publish it 🙂

    even though revision is always necessary…I guess from now on I will be using the backspace key to the least!!

    🙂 Thanx!!

  • Daniel

    CompuWorld, proper revision and editing are essential, but you must do them after you are done writing the stuff.

  • Jason @ SFYB

    I always set out to write then edit after I finish but then find myself wondering back to look over the last paragraph or entire article to see how it looks so far. I need to follow your advice and get more done.

  • Lisa

    Ohhhhh, so THAT’S why it takes me five hours to write three paragraphs?

    (One sentence – I had to backspace 10 times – one change in sentence structure and nine typos). I think I need help.

    Ok, I need to go read How to Bypass Your Internal Editor NOW.

  • Vikram

    lol , Lisa!

    Humorous comments do lead to visits, Am off to visit your blog NOW! 😉

  • nick

    Totally agree with you. I generally give myself an hour to write a post or two, then I leave it alone for a while – maybe tend to my emails or write for another blog, then I come back and edit. Why? The content is less in my mind and I tend to actually read the words, rather than ‘think’ I’m reading them but know what they say. It really works!

  • DaveOlson

    Daniel,

    How true. It seems like the moment I stop to correct spelling or grammatical errors I lose my creative stream… if I ever had it to begin with. 🙂 Go with the flow… then shore up the banks.

  • Linda R. Moore

    Try doing NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org)–that gets you over your inner editor *real* fast *grin*

  • Wtricks

    Excellent idea. I also try to write and not do any editing till I am done. I usually get an “idea flow” and it’s a pity to interrupt the inspiration.

  • Christopher

    As you say writing and editing really are 2 separate processes, and it was the most valuable lesson I learned when writing for a newspaper.

    I now break my writing into 3 stages:

    !. Notes / plan – often in pencil in a notebook and it might take several weeks to just a few minutes to sketch out a plan.

    2. Writing – using the notes as a guide I just type and type and type, if an added idea comes into my mind I will start a new paragraph and continue typing until I am done. If I think I can word something better I just repeat it so I can pick the best version while editing.

    3. Editing – sometimes the next day if I can, or at least after a cup of tea or coffee. First edit cuts and pastes to get the flow / story in the right order. Then it is down to the nitty gritty of editing typos etc.

  • Thilak

    Ah… this is exactly my problem. You made my day!

  • Mandy

    I definitely need to do this, I used to proof read as a living so I am really bad. Although if I could only type better in the first place then those typos wouldn’t be there to drive me mad!

    I am going to start to do this though, because by the time I have gone back to change something I’ve lost my train of thought. And not having a good memory, that is lethal.

  • Art

    gun germ and steel the fates of human society

  • Dave Starr — ROI Guy

    When PC ‘s first started going on every desk in business offices, a coworker and I got ours at the same time. I began doing everything on the keyboard immediately, my cubicle-mate seemed a little slow to adopt the “new way” …he still wrote out all his letters on a yellow pad with a pen, even though we no longer had a secretary to type them up. My mate would then correct his handwritten copy with a pen and only then would he boot up with compouter with his WordStar disk … yep, it was that long ago … and then type the finished product.

    Sounds tedious? indeed, but he turned out more finished product per day than I ever did, and his success rate for getting documents past the boss’ review for final signature was about twice mine.

    Yellow legal pads may not be as obsolete as you think … and no matter what method you use, turn off that annoying inline spell checking … write, _then_ spell check and proof read.

  • Jamaaludeen Khan

    I agree totally with this article. Firstly, I can’t think without a keyboard. Does that sound strange? Well, it’s true. I can’t brainstorm on paper. I do have random thoughts floating in my head of course, but the true creative juices only start flowing once my fingers touch the keyboard. Then I type away, like I’m doing now. 🙂

    I correct small typo’s as I go along, but I’m lucky that my spelling is good and my typing is fast. When I’m done I read carefully to check grammar and sentence structure, and to see if it “sounds” good.

    I’ve been writing online content for many years, and I’ll say the best way to improve is to write and write and write…

  • MG

    Nice post, usefull!

  • HeLster

    wow. ..this is a very useful suggestion. Also the comments here are very related to me. Well for me, as a student, I can learn more here than school. GeeEz

  • The American Prince Charles, III

    I think editing after brainstorming is a wonderful and “truthful” idea. Being a professional author, I have to admit that writing can be intimidating; however, when I write, I brainstorm and go ahead and put everything down on paper. Then, I will edit when complete. Many times, I’ll end up writing at least five pages of great stuff!

    My advice: Always continue to write when the moment arrives. Don’t worry about the mistakes and editing until you’ve reached that point where you’re comfortable enough to go ahead and start the editing process. Read, read and re-read during your editing process and then ask for another set of eyes to review for you.

    Good luck to all and happy writing!

    The American Prince Charles, III
    Author of Tirips

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