The two habits of successful content creators are simple ones: write and cut.
It’s as easy – and as complicated – as that. Put as much of the good stuff down as you can, and then start paring it back. When you’re finished paring it back, rewrite it. Then repeat the process.
When you’re done, proofread it. Then proofread it again.
The process may sound mechanical, something which goes against the creative flow, but each revision will improve the work.
The ‘rinse, repeat’ strategy came to mind this week as I read Paul Hendrickson’s recent biography of Ernest Hemingway.
At one point Hendrickson recounts the guidance Hemingway gave to aspirant writer Arnold Samuelson.
“Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it,” the author told his friend, before issuing his often-cited advice on revision.
“Every day go back to the beginning and rewrite the whole thing and when it gets too long, read at least two or three chapters before you start to write and at least once a week go back to the start. That way you make it one piece. And when you go over it, cut out everything you can.”
This may explain why Hemingway wrote 47 endings to A Farewell To Arms and revised the entirety of Across The River and Into The Trees 206 times (or so he wrote to a pal).
Whether you call it writing or authoring or content creation, and whether you’ve an hour, a day or a week to do it, the secret to the best content is fiendishly simple. Write, cut and repeat.