Life lessons can come from surprising places.
Over the weekend, I was looking on the web for magic formulas to help me progress faster in my court reporting course. Actually, I ran across this article in some practice material, and it offered one of those lovely categorizations: If you can fix these problems, you will be assured of success. (Tell me, Doctor, what is wrong with me that I keep going into pursuits where success is an ever-receding horizon?)
Anyway, the article helpfully informs us that there are four classifications of problems: clarity, hesitation, carrying and editing. If you’re overly persnickety, as I am, you will note that they overlap and and feed each other, but when I read the description of “editing,” I realized I was nailed:
4) Writers who edit while writing:
A. This is the strangest group of all (I rest my case). This group looks backward to check the accuracy of previous strokes. This is not conducive to learning. It must be stopped.
This is the same reason that I’m writing my novel by hand (700 words today, by the way), because when I sit at a keyboard, I can’t leave the prior paragraphs alone. It’s not right; it’s not colorful; it’s got typos; it’s stupid; it’s boring. Anne Lamott‘s slogan, “I’ll fix it later,” doesn’t work, because it’s too easy to read the type above and see the errors and problems and fear that they won’t get fixed before going public (and looking at yesterday’s post, I see that that is a definite danger–and I won’t fix it later). Handwriting is enough harder to read, and I know I have to type it anyway, so I can say, “I’ll fix it later,” and trust myself to do it.
And it’s possible to live like that, too, second-guessing every decision, every move, until someone’s afraid to do anything because it might be wrong, stupid, boring, not clever, etc.
It’s not that editing shouldn’t happen, but if it begins too soon — whether in court reporting, writing or life — it ties up the person so that forward motion is impossible. Martin Luther was getting near this idea in his oft-quoted “Be a sinner and sin boldly, but more strongly have faith and rejoice in Christ.”
And the day job I’m trying to work myself out of? Editing. No wonder it makes me crazy.