Blogging Insights — # 45: What writing is

Writing is all the things we’ve talked about, including:

Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.
– Isaac Asimov

Yes, it’s definitely thinking through your fingers. All the initial ideas and feelings pop out through your fingers into that first draft. After that, it’s time to edit.

What’s the difference between raw and edited writing? Huge. After I edit, my writing is always better. If I wait and edit it again, it’s better yet. Everybody’s writing is improved by editing. How can you know? Write a piece. Leave it. Come back and edit it. If you don’t see a difference, you’re more of a genius than any writer I’ve ever known because (ta da), all writer’s edit. It’s part of the process. First drafts don’t get published — except on social media. Which is a statement about social media and why it isn’t respected. If the writers don’t take it seriously, why should anyone else?

Blogging is often sloppy but the best are well-written and carefully-edited. How many edits? It depends on the piece. Is it serious? Long? Detailed? Do you think it has value? If yes, it’s worth editing.

The more I edit, the better my writing gets. I can tell the difference instantly between a piece I just tossed out into the virtual world and one where I worked at it until it says exactly what I want it to say.

Do I edit everything equally? Obviously a few lines between photographs doesn’t need the same attention as a longer, serious post. Short, lightweight items rarely need much editing in part because they’re short. Everything gets at least a light edit in the unrealistic hope I will find the typos before it gets published. I never find them because I never find typos in my own work. That’s not an editing problem. It’s an “I can’t proofread my own writing” problem.

Yes, writing is thinking through your fingers. That doesn’t mean after you have written a draft, you shouldn’t then edit it. Asimov may have thought with his fingers, but does anyone believe he didn’t edit his writing? Have you read his writing?

A lot of writing never gets published because it wasn’t thoroughly edited. The authors didn’t do the work.

Writing is fun or can be. Editing is work.

If what you say online doesn’t mean much to you, hey, it’s your writing. Just know if you want your writing to be taken seriously, you have to take it seriously.

Categories: #Writing, Anecdote, Challenges, Editing, Words

Tags: , , , ,

13 replies

  1. You said writing is fun but editing is work but to me it often feels exactly the opposite. There’s something magical about taking a page of blah blah blah, striking half of it through, shifting what’s left around and wow, I end up with something half-decent (if I’m lucky). I’m talking about fiction here.

    Oh by the way if you want something to write about, I’d be interested what you have to say about the rating system Microsoft Word gives to prose, how easy it supposedly is to read and what grade-level your writing is at… Does anyone actually care about these ratings? Do you care? Do they mean anything to anyone?

    (I’m talking about “Kincaid Reading Ease”… etc.)


    • “Flesch Reading Ease”…trust me to get that wrong.


      • I haven’t used Word in more than 15 years. It got very expensive and became so automated, it never did what I wanted. I use “Open Office.” It is open software and free. They offer (free) a really complete program. Regardless, I didn’t even know Word had a rating system. Considering the quality of the material published by Microsoft, I would be very reluctant to accept any judgement from that quarter.

        I think I am probably a better editor than writer too. You are right. There IS something magical about taking a piece of someone’s work and making it sing. I wish I were a better editor of my own writing, but I tend to see what I meant to say rather than what I really said. That is almost always the problem with self-editing. At some point, you need someone else whose judgement you trust to tell you if they think you’ve written well — or not.

        I am not a good fiction writer. I’m just not. I wish I were. I can only write about things I know and I’m not particularly good at making characters DO stuff. I can’t create a storyline. I can be a genius at non-fiction, but that’s where it stops. Very short piece of fiction I can manage, but anything longer than a few pages? Nope.

        I would have made a great academic and probably, had life so directed me, a really good historian. But I needed a paying job. We needed the money and I needed a salary. C’est la vie.


  2. Your posts are always pearls of wisdom for writers and bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have the singular advantage of having actually been a professional writer for my entire working life — more than 40 years. Many people write as a hobby or after they retire. I retired more than 15 years ago and I’m still writing — just not for money. Mind you I wouldn’t object if someone paid me.

      I was out there in the market for a long time. Working as a writer takes the mysticism out of the experience. Yet after so many years, writing is still the thing that means the most to me. Even long after retirement, you can always write. Writers often write until their final breaths. Writing is part of you.

      I’m pretty sure ALL art is like that.


      • I think once you start writing, like talking, you never stop.
        You have been very lucky to have enjoyed what you did for a living.

        We on the blogosphere continue to benefit from your writing experience.
        I think if you wanted , you could still get paid for writing on a freelance basis.


  3. I agree! Editing is a biggie! And if you don’t take your writing seriously, who else will?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve put across your point very well Marilyn

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we’ve covered most of the points about writing. Next, maybe we should talk about process. Where you start, how you keep at it, and how you know when it’s actually finished. A lot of us — me too — have a problem knowing when it’s done. We either over-edit until it’s dry as dust or under-edit so it’s amateurish.

      Liked by 2 people

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