Jordan Ogren

August 31, 2021

What shaving can teach you about writing.

I'm a man. But just barely.

I still call my parents before big decisions.
I still do the dishes with gloves on.
I still can't grow a full beard.

That last part is something I'm not proud of.

It was my senior year of high school before I could grow a mustache, and I haven't had much luck since. 

It grows so slowly that I can shave weekly without people noticing.

During one of those rare times when I needed to shave, I noticed something profound:

While my first take on shaving is usually quite effective, it's not enough 99% of the time.

I always go back through it after drying off and clean it to perfection. And that reminded me of the importance of reviewing for writing.

If I left the house after my first take, my face would appear shaved, but you would see a host of errors upon closer examination. Crossing the gap from "okay" to "great" is found in the review process (2nd take), not the creation process (1st take).

The creation process is akin to vomiting info from your mind to the page, like throwing a bucket of junk at the wall to see what sticks.

When writing, the first draft is all about unlocking what's in your brain and getting it onto the page. Usually, this is ugly and can result in bleeding (or at least when shaving).

When you're finished, your first draft should be okay, teetering the border of terrible. How you turn it into something great is not by doing better on the first draft.

It's by being calculated and intentional in your editing and revising. 

Just like how you wouldn't leave the house after your first take after shaving, don't put anything into the world without giving it at least a second look.

Unlike shaving (I hope…), editing and revising your writing can be done by a peer or friend. This makes the process less lonely and subjective (another set of eyes can do wonders in the editing process).

Maybe you only need one take to shave perfectly, and this analogy falls flat. If so, please teach me your ways.

But I'd be willing to bet my entire bank account your writing needs another look. 

Or at least it would drastically improve through revising and editing.

Do you have a firm editing process?

🧠 // JO