Annie Dillard on Editing

by janetkayfetz

I love the blog Brain Pickings, especially when the subject is writing. Here is something interesting from today’s edition — excerpts from the writer Annie Dillard (from Ms. Dillard’s book The Writing Life) on

editing while you compose and

editing after you compose.

 “The reason to perfect a piece of prose as it progresses – to secure each sentence before building on it – is that original writing fashions a form. It unrolls out into nothingness. It grows cell to cell, bole to bough to twig to leaf; any careful word may suggest a route, may begin a strand of metaphor or event out of which much, or all, will develop. Perfecting the work inch by inch, writing from the first word toward the last, displays the courage and fear this method induces.


The reason not to perfect a work as it progresses is that, concomitantly, original work fashions a form the true shape of which it discovers only as it proceeds, so the early strokes are useless, however fine their sheen. Only when a paragraph’s role in the context of the whole work is clear can the envisioning writer direct its complexity of detail to strengthen the work’s ends.”

Read the entire entry here.