Edit Your Work Over and Over

Nothing makes me happier than for a student, especially one of my PhD students, to ask how he can improve his writing. It shows humility. It shows awareness of imperfection. And it promises that what I read from his screen might be, well, less painful than it would have been. I hope the PhD students under my supervision surpass me in their usefulness, output, and standing, so I hope they all write, write a lot, and become far more widely read than I could ever hope to be, all in the task of making disciples of all nations for the glory of God in the name of Jesus by the power of the Spirit.

How to become that kind of writer?

Edit your work over and over. That’s my favorite of the ten tips to better writing from Michael Munger at the Chronicle of Higher Education. Here are the others, and I like numbers 4 and 7 almost as much:

1. Writing is an exercise.

2. Set goals based on output, not input.

3. Find a voice; don’t just “get published.”

4. Give yourself time.

5. Everyone’s unwritten work is brilliant.

6. Pick a puzzle.

7. Write, then squeeze the other things in.

8. Not all of your thoughts are profound.

9. Your most profound thoughts are often wrong.

10. Edit your work, over and over.

The whole. HT: Dane Ortlund

9 Responses to Edit Your Work Over and Over

  1. Dan Phillips September 25, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    FWIW, if I ever write again, one thing I’ll do that I didn’t: read it aloud.

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