If Your Ideas Are Worth Sharing, They Are Worth Editing

My 11-year-old son was looking over my shoulder when I pressed publish on my last entry. “I have no idea what any of that means,” he declared.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He read the first sentence back to me. “I know what most of those words mean, but I have no idea what you are saying.”

I explained the first sentence as plainly and clearly as I could.

“Oh,” he responded. “Why didn’t you just write it that way?”

I thought about saying that I write this journal mostly for me–that it is a tool for reflection and later reference, and therefore it is more important to me to capture ideas than it is to spend time editing them.

That’s what I was thinking. But what I said was, “you’re right.” Because he was. Ideas worth expressing are worth expressing well. Not only is it a kindness to readers, but the act of editing helps refine ideas and keeps writers from hiding behind impenetrable prose.

For the record, I went back and edited the first sentence in my last entry. It went from:

The phenomenon that giving people evidence or logical arguments that their position on an issue is wrong can serve to further entrench them in their position has long been clear.

to

Giving people logical reasons why they are wrong usually doesn’t work. Neither does pointing to research studies.

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One thought on “If Your Ideas Are Worth Sharing, They Are Worth Editing

  1. Ellen

    Bob, I had to laugh out loud. Sean was saying to you what I said to Rob for years! Sean had more impact, however.

    Reply

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