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Posted at 8:39 AM ET, 02/17/2011

Story pick: Coughing up copy, one hairball at a time

By Christian Davenport

"Something is better than nothing," a friend and colleague recently said when describing how he begins to write. Apparently, unlike me, he has no fear of what will come out, no apprehension that the first draft will not resemble prose as much as vandalism that desecrates the blank space with incoherent ramblings.
He gets on with it -- building momentum one word at a time until there's a sentence and then a paragraph and soon something more. Joel Achenbach, whose writing has always appeared to me as easy as breathing, admits in his blog post that he in fact gasps and pants and wheezes his way through his copy, coughing up large, paragraph-sized hairballs every once in a while like the rest of us.
But he too believes that something is better than nothing, and brings in the rewriter, "where the art turns into a craft." Then comes the fact-checker, the grammarian, and then, at the end, comes surrender, because it's never done.

By Christian Davenport  | February 17, 2011; 8:39 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  | Tags:  joel achenbach; writing; rewriting  
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