Though best known for his painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s passion was sculpting marble. And he considered that the figure he was sculpting was always present within the marble block. All he had to do was remove the surplus marble to reveal the figure within.
This is the way I’ve been approaching my writing lately. I keep chipping away at the block of words, removing the surplus junk to reveal something that will hopefully be worth looking at.
One of my favorite books on writing nonfiction is On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. Three of his key elements of good, nonfiction writing are clarity, simplicity, and brevity. This goes along with one of my favorite bible verses: “The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” (Ecclesiastes 6:11)
The first draft of the book I’m writing had grown to a flabby 205,246 words. Seven revisions later and it’s now down to 63,300 words, and still on a diet. I keep chipping away at the surplus stuff, making it simpler, clearer and way briefer. And I love the editing process. It’s fun to remove the junk that adds nothing, and discover the shorter message that is much more powerful. Though writing can be hard, editing is fun.