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editing #7

When I write, I employ my creativity to produce something that didn’t exist before; I’m weaving a story from a chaos of infinite options. When I edit, I bring order to that chaos, and to the choices I’ve made.

Writing and editing are two separate but complementary functions:

  • Writing = chaos/creativity


  • Editing = order/choices

If you’ve ever read, or attempted to read, something like Visions of Cody by Jack Kerouac, you realise how vital editing is to producing a satisfying piece of writing. Without it you get, well, a lot of hippy nonsense. Staying with the hippies/beats theme, I watched a film of the rock band Cream playing live. It was dirge: three top musicians noodling at full volume, and not a single one listening to the other.

Order is not more important than creativity. Or vice versa. Without creativity all you’ll end up doing is organising the collection of books already on your shelf, but without order you’ll end up with piles of unfinished, vaguely embarrassing screeds strewn around the place.

And I’ve been there.


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