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Good Writing is Unnatural

First draft writing resembles contemporaneous speaking.

Record yourself for five minutes delivering an impromptu speech on a subject and then transcribe it. Then think about how far it is from tight, vigorous, organized writing. It’s a long way.

We think things out as we talk. It’s spur of the moment type stuff, with no regard to how it would appear in print.

Similarly, many people write their first draft in the same way, rolling out thoughts as they come.

It’s only when we collect our thoughts on that first draft, do more research, take out tangents, do we better focus on what we want to say.

In other words, tight and direct writing is completely different and unnatural to the way we speak. Dialog is a different matter.

Too often I am presented with first draft material which should be third or fourth draft material. Time is a problem, of course, a deadline taking precedent over fine thoughts well organized.

That aside, know this. We should not write as we speak. Unless you are Twain. Although I know he battled over every word he wrote. A casual and readable writing style is quite the trick. It has to be worked on. It is a product of thought and revision. It doesn’t just come to you. It is not natural.

This is part of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, taken by me yesterday near dusk. Public domain.
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