Toss out the baby AND the bathwater

by R. L. Howser on February 17, 2014 · 0 comments

There’s a problem that bedevils every writer that I know and it is particularly true of speech writers. We have a tendency to fall in love with our words.

9965831784_e6c31b10ecOnce we spend the time crafting them and we see them on the paper or on the screen, they become the only way of saying what we are trying to get across.

We’ll go back and tinker with them; polish the grammar, toy with the punctuation or agonize over word choices, but what we rarely do is question whether the approach we took was the best one.

Much as a mother falls in love with her child, and can’t even imagine having any child but this one, once our words are born in front of us, the major choices of tone, structure and style become, in our minds, the only possible choices.

Sometimes that’s good. It’s far too easy to outsmart ourselves with pointless embellishment or complication. Very often our first instincts are our best ones.

But not always.

Sometimes, it’s just not working and the best thing you can do is toss the whole thing out and start over. Try a radically different tone or a completely different analogy. Strip it down or tart it up. Flip your structure upside down.

Sometimes it’s not enough to just change the bathwater. You’ve got to toss out the baby, or at least set it to the side, and make a new one.

That’s the most enjoyable part of the process anyway.

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