It’s the temptation of commas, the struggle of hyphens – sentences are offered to a page, structured again and again. They mock with their imperfections, demanding constant revision. An introduction has been changed. A thesis has been narrowed, broadened and then shaped into an entirely different ideal. Adjectives are offered and then quickly retrieved (they offend with their lackluster descriptions, the too common meanings). You edit; you ponder; you edit once more. Hours are given to the cause of perfection and, when it’s finally achieved, you scribble out the next paragraph – and the process begins again.
This is an all too frequent mistake made by academics. The need to revise is overwhelming; and time is devoted to searching over sentences, trying to discover what can be improved. One simple replacement of a semi-colon can turn into an entirely new block of text. And minutes that should be offered to research are instead given to the too involved proofreading.
It is an easy assumption that all editing is to be done as words are inked out. Writers believe they can craft far better prose if they transform it as soon as it’s begun. This will leave no time for errors to settle onto the page, they think. It will instead offer convenience.
This is wrong.
Too often do these attempts at revision only distract – inspirations are lost; style is shifted into dull grammar; and the purpose of a paper is forgotten. There is no chance for genius, only the mechanical approach to forcing its appearance.
It is therefore strongly recommended that all writing is allowed to simply exist. Form a first draft that is drenched in mistakes to ensure it is also drenched in creativity. Do not pause to edit. Do not stall a sudden clever notion to adjust dashes. Instead offer every idea you wish to have and then redefine them. It enables you to utilize your own mind and create stronger papers.