Worth Your Salt?

If there’s one thing writers know, it’s that adjustments are inevitable.

In reality, this goes for everyone, not just writers.

But what’s interesting is that there’s a special term for this in writing—revising. Okay, that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is that we view change in writing as a given—as something that is inherently part of the process if you want a product to come out top-notch. No writer particularly delights in revision, but any writer worth their salt knows that it’s an investment that will pay off in the final result.

When it comes to the rest of life, we dread change.

To be fair, some of us dread it more than others, and some of us are better at it than others—but what’s consistent is that change in our external circumstances requires us to adapt, whether we like it or not.

Maybe it’s just an over-representation bias, but I’d bet that more people fear the unexpected changes in life. Each day, we spend more time in hypothetical-land worrying about what new catastrophe could strike, rather than wondering what fresh, groundbreaking opportunities will fall out of the sky.

As with many of our topics here, there are probably oodles of philosophies, psychological theories, and maybe even quantum mechanics explanations as to why we as human tend to worry about the future’s changes instead of chasing them with anticipation. I will not attempt to explain the why. I’m more interested in what we can learn from the world of storytelling.

Because here is what it comes down to:

If we all approached the future with the fixed eyes and flexible mind of a writer revising his work, we’d have a lot more masterpieces in the world.

A writer going over his manuscript knows there will be parts he doesn’t like that he still has to keep. He knows there will be parts he loves that he has to lose. He knows there will be inconsistencies to straighten out, messes to clean up, and sections that need complete reinvention. All this can sound so overwhelming! It stalls many a writer from picking up the red pen, simply because of the sheer amount of drudgery and frustration this process involves.

But the determined writer knows that unless he begins that process, he will never get that beautiful novel.

The determined writer uncaps the red pen and gets to work.

That’s the writer worth his salt.

How many hurdles might we overcome if we stop staring at them and just take the leap? How many wounds might heal if we stop denying them and give ourselves the space to recover? We will always be faced with changes we didn’t count on and didn’t want—not much we can do to avoid that. But what we can do is recognize what’s different, accept it, and make the adjustment. Compensate. Adapt. Evolve, if you prefer.

Because every one of us is work in progress—no one is the final draft until the day his or her life ends. That’s pretty final. We all have revisions to make, and the clock is ticking.

Let’s be writers worth our salt.

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