Since I have been writing these posts over the last several years, editing has become my constant companion. I wish I could write decently with my first draft, but the norm is that my drafts need many edits. Edits take different forms and serve specific purposes. In the end, edited posts are cleaner, more precise, and hopefully more meaningful. As I thought about this one day, I realized that editing describes well the process of growing as a person.
After writing a draft post, I almost always take a break. Only later do I reread that first ugly draft. The reading is done with a reflective eye, watching for what works and what doesn’t work. What would happen if we read the days of our lives? Socrates captured this when he wrote, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” He could have just as easily written, “The unedited life is not worth living.” We read our lives on a regular basis to gain context and understanding. We read our lives to determine whether we like the story our actions are telling. This is the benefit that comes from practices like journaling.
The editing process takes several forms. Most editors strike out unnecessary words, phrases, sentences, and even more. Usually, subtractions to the text outweigh needed additions. Editing refines the writing to the essentials. This pruning is often painful as we hold onto what was at first deemed precious. In the end, we end up with a much stronger message.
Editing always involves work on punctuation (which is my downfall!). Punctuation adds necessary pauses to clarify meaning. New paragraphs, commas, colons, semi-colons all serve this purpose. Other punctuation, like exclamation points, creates emphasis when a topic needs strengthening.
Finally, on rarer occasions, editing requires adding to the text. Most often, this only becomes apparent when we have removed the unnecessary fluff through liberal use of a red pen. Only through careful editing do we end up with quality writing.
Life editing requires the same process. Dallas Willard said, “Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” He was speaking about editing our lives.
I find that only people who have appropriate margin in their lives have the capacity and bandwidth to savor life. Otherwise, exhaustion, stress, and anxiety crowd out life’s exclamations.
Here are a few life-editing questions to consider:
- What would the title of your Life Post be? (this is a really hard one!)
- What things are you doing which are unnecessary fluff, that perhaps, dilute the important message of your life?
- Where do you need critical punctuation, the pauses that make your life readable?
- What is the exclamation of your life?