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I may not always know why I’m writing something, but there’s always a reason for it.

It occurred to me during today’s writing that I can’t really think of anything I’ve written that I really shouldn’t have written. I don’t mean this as a point of hubris, because plenty of what I’ve written should never see a reader’s eyes*, but because, at it’s very worst, I need to write whatever it is I’m writing to simply get it out of my system and get back to the good stuff.

At the other end of the spectrum, I have the occasional stretch of final draft writing, where hardly a word changes from draft 1 to draft 7. These are very good times, and I can usually tell they’re happening or have just happened, though not always.

The fact of the matter, though, is that most of my writing lands somewhere between those two ends, where the writing is good but not great and will need varying amounts of revision to really make it shine**.

None of this is really new for me, but some of today’s writing exemplified a bit of the upper end of that middle area. In these cases, I’m often frustrated that what I’m writing is tangential, distracting, irrelevant, or flat-out boring, and I mentally relegate it to the dustbin in an upcoming revision (sometimes with a massive ‘X’ scrawled in frustration over the offending section).

But then, a few pages (or forty!) later, I discover that that which I had so reviled is actually the setup for a pretty snazzy payoff that I didn’t know was coming. This kind of thing only further cements my belief that writing, for me, is less about creation and more about discovery.

I may not always know why I’m writing something, but there’s always a reason for it.

 

* Trust me.

** That’s assuming the idea that any of my writing shines in the end, anyway, but allow me hold onto that conceit for now.

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