Sunday, April 23, 2006

tenet: edit before you write

Brevity used to be enforced mechanically - it took time to write letters by hand, to set type for a newspaper, to make copies (I still have flashbacks of nasty rotary mimeographs fumes) and to prepare "slides" for presentations.

The requirement to "get it right" before you went to press imposed by the printing media of the day placed a premium on the craft of editing. As the velocity of publishing has increased the craft of editing has experienced an inversely proportional decline; whether this is indicative of superior writing is doubtful.

By editing I mean more than the final stage of document preparation in which you check for spelling, capitalization, grammar, etc. It's more than proofreading. The editor is the conscience of the writer, whether the editor is a third party or a reflective aspect of the writer him/herself.

My point is that editing as a craft used to be embedded in the mechanics of the publishing media; now it is external to the media. In all aspects of writing, but especially market-targeted writing, it needs to be an integral part of the creative process. Especially for the software space, where hyperbole and lazy superfluousness is rewarded with. . .crickets.

(Here is the edited version of this entire post: Think about what you're going to write before you sit down to write it.)

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