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Why it's always important to polish your writing

Updated: Aug 1, 2023



1. It takes much brain power to make words run along.

2. Easier to put thoughts down in jumbled mess than make perfect story and ...

3. Then perfect the writing.


Even one of those tasks is an Everest in effort.


The adage that the first draft’s entire purpose is to exist is incredibly wise in its efficiency. You need to get the bones, the foundations of the story down before you can go further. What’s the point of painting a beautiful wall when you have to tear it down in the future, because it is wildly impractical?


Once you have the foundations on a solid bedrock of backstory, then you can go forward and put up the walls so that the story is finished. Yet that is still barely half the work done; you still have to trim the excess, paint the walls, polish the bench tops and add the decor. The more you go over it, the more you can remove the imperfections of both story and prose. It also lets you look back and decide if you’re beating a dead horse, for example when you try to continue a building construction metaphor for polishing your work.


While there are exceptions to every rule and a friend of a friend heard of someone who wrote a bestseller in a single sitting without needing to edit, we mere mortals need to polish our work to make it the best we can make it, both with story and prose, including the removal of redundant words.


Putting it out there for the public to read is done not only because we want it to be great, but we also want our egos stroked enough so that we can remain confident to go on writing.

Stew Adams



The Importance of Polishing


As the train doors opened Georgie leapt out onto the platform. Although she already knew it was too late, she ducked and weaved through the crowd, jostling against half a dozen shoulders as she ran. At the escalator she kicked her work heels off and sprinted up the steps two at a time.


She couldn't believe she'd been so stupid. The evening before, at quarter past eight and already late for dinner with her old, old, old school friends, she finally received the case file comments from the senior law partner she was interning for. She'd copied and pasted his questions into a new email, hit send to their opposing counsel, then shut her laptop and been out the door, not bothering to bring her work gear with her.


A great idea, until on the train ride into work that morning Damian sent her a Whatsapp message. There, highlighted in yellow in her email, were the ugly, messy notes she hadn't bothered to read, let alone filter.


Wtf is this in exhibit 118A? Get that idiot to supply something worth looking at.


Georgie raced along Pitt Street, bare feet slapping the ground. At one pedestrian crossing a party of tourists gawking around made her miss the lights. She raised her face to the sky and let out a wordless shriek.


At last she made it to her work building, through the lobby, up the lifts, her legs itching every second of the way. She burst into Damian's office, gasping for breath. 'I can expl-'


Damian held up a silencing hand. 'What do I always say?'


Georgie's shoulders slumped. 'It's important to check what I'm doing. Always polish my writing.'


On the big monitor Damian flashes up the email she'd sent, and hovers his cursor over the addressee. 'At least you're consistent.'


Georgie almost collapses with her sigh of relief. She'd misspelled the recipient's email address. It hadn't 'Sent' after all.

Matt Jackson




Copyright held by the authors cited above; photos: Wix.


Posts on this SSOA blog are published to showcase the work of emerging writers who meet weekly to workshop stories. The posts comprise just some of the responses written in just 10 minutes as a warm up to the meetings.

If you'd like to join any of our groups or are looking for writing classes, contact us on our home website: ssoa.com.au

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