When a child is born, they are but a lump of flesh, unable to even hold their own head up.
When you snap a Polaroid picture, it is grey, then murky, washed out.
Before it can spread its wings to fly, a butterfly is but a worm-like creature with an insatiable appetite.
When you are climbing the mountain, you can’t see its shape against the sky, its majestic beauty dominating the landscape.
In order to be able to properly judge our work, distance and perspective are required. The inherent drama of punching those keys needs to subside, your creative energy needs to be replenished.
The paint on the canvas takes time to dry.
All the creative decisions you took as you were writing your article into existence need to settle into each other, and you need to let go of the struggle you went through, you need to distance yourself from the backbreaking task of rummaging through all the drawers of your mind.
So often, I read an article I wrote four or five years ago, and I am surprised by the fact that it was I who wrote it into existence.
Most times, I can recall with accuracy the fact that I did not enjoy writing it. I can remember that it felt like a long and arduous journey towards the top of a hill graced with the most uninspiring view.
Since I am no longer caught in the emotion of creation, I can see my work with clarity. I recognize the style, the deliberate creative choices my subconscious mind took. It’s funny.
Of course, other times the opposite happens. Articles I felt were powerful, stories I felt could change the world, are nothing more than a tight knot of anxiety and fears and cliches.
The Importance of Distance
I often say, “punch the damn keys.”
This makes writing feel like going to war. And in the heat of the battle, we often forget what our article was supposed to be about. We forget why we started on the journey long before we reach the destination.
What was the goal? What inspired you? What problem did you want to solve?
If you’d take a step back, wait for a bit, and then return to your article, you’d become aware of all these aspects.
In the messy process of creation, it sometimes happens that you forget what your article was all about.
Emotion is the by-product of punching those keys as you write your first draft. Clarity, on the other hand, is the side-effect of going over your article after the sound of your fingers punching the keyboard has become but a faint echo.
At the same time, something might happen. You may realize that there’s more to be said, that the thousand or so words you wrote into existence a week ago are just the beginning. There are more lessons, more ideas to share with your readers.
In order to figure all of this out, you need to distance yourself from the words you wrote.
Give it a bit of time. At least a couple of days. Go write something else. Live a little. Talk about the same ideas and concepts you just wrote about with a couple of friends.
You’d be surprised by the results.
Our perspective is often distorted as we finish writing our first draft.
In many ways, writing is waiting a bit before you rewrite your first draft.
It’s important to go through your articles as a reader, armed with the curious objectivity of someone who’s about to invest time and mental energy. And this requires that you take some time away from your words, just enough so you can let go of your hopes and expectations, of the emotions and experiences you had to draw upon in order to write your article into existence.