If You Have To Ask: “Should I Rewrite This?”, Then, “Yes.”

Everyone’s heard sportswriter Red Smith’s description of’ the writing process: “All you do,” he explained, “is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”

Smith was referring to the challenges every writer endures–obtaining original material with creative reporting, pinpointing an illustrative anecdote, polishing every sentence and baiting our readers with a compelling lead.

What Smith didn’t say is this: Rewriting stops the bleeding.

For most of my features, I spend 70%, of my time reporting, 10% writing and 20% rewriting. Many writers save little time for the last stage, the most pivotal part of the process. But first-rate reporting and thoughtful storytelling can fail if it’s full of inappropriate words, clunky phrases and loose sentences.

rw“I think revision is