Why is writing so hard?

I mean good writing, not the kind of stuff that I usually publish here. I mean, I like to think that most of my blog articles are well written, but they’re not the kinds of things that get published or read critically by other people. Good writing takes a lot more time, and a lot more editing. Sadly, the more I edit my work, the less I tend to like it.

You may have guessed that I’m talking about my personal statement, and you’d be right. My first draft was just that. It was grammatically acceptable, but awkward in some spots; in was rough around the edges in terms of organization and content; and it was too long by a few lines. But it was mostly unadulterated thought translated to paper, and I think most of the people who read the first draft got that feeling from it. Every time I was faced with a creative writing task, I found that my best strategy was just to slit my literary wrists and let the ink bleed all over the page. The result — soggy, somewhat messy, and unfiltered — was often far better than anything that took more than an hour to write. In other words, you could say that consciousness gets in the way of my subconscious creativity.

The problem is that editing requires less emotion, less instinct, and more intellect. This is fine for fixing grammatical errors, typos, and other mechanical issues, but it’s an absolute nightmare for editing content. My revisions become more plastic, less expressive; it’s a bit like looking at a wax statue standing next to the real person. Stylistically, I can see the passage going from enthusiastic to forced.

Of course, editing is not optional. Few first drafts are complete enough or polished enough for submission. But how polished is too polished, and how do I strike a balance between the rational and the inspirational? I wish I knew. Until I figure it out, I’ve got to resort to re-writes. After getting some needed advice from a good friend, I tore apart the old statement and rebuilt it. Most of the parts are there, but they’ve been rearranged and rewritten to let my personality through again. I’m getting close to the deadline, but it’s worth the trouble. I only hope I don’t have to make too many edits.

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