Confessions Of A Serial Tweaker

drevil3

I’m convinced that the secret to good writing is effective rewriting. I’m also convinced that I take it too far.

How I envy the easy, breezy, off-the-cuff writer. That’s not me.  I’m a serial “tweaker.” No, I don’t mean “twerker” à la Miley Cyrus – I’m not that crude. Besides, that kind of movement from this kind of body would just be wrong.   I’m talking about my habit of subjecting any writing project to an endless series of tiny adjustments.

Nothing is ever good enough for me. No piece is ever done.

It may not look it, but my posts result from a painstaking process of drafting, writing, cogitating, rewriting, mulling, rewriting, stewing, more rewriting, on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam, world without end, amen.

After all that, it’s off for a final spell check and then, at long last, I’m finished. But I can’t keep my inner tweaker down:

“Maybe that “but” would read better as “however.”” tweak

“Active voice is better than passive.”   tweak, tweak

“Although maybe the point of the paragraph is its very passivity.” untweak

“Still, wouldn’t it best to convey that passivity in an active way?” retweak

The only way I ever get anything posted is to sit my inner tweaker down for a stern lecture, then hit the “Publish” button while she’s distracted.

Rewriting is like making whipped cream.  Whip it too little, and you have an unformed mess. Too much, and you’ve tortured it into unappetizing lumps.  It takes a deft hand to strike the right balance.  To produce appealing confections of light, fluffy prose, you have to whip it good.

 

 

 

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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79 Responses to Confessions Of A Serial Tweaker

  1. I understand this. I often have to read over my posts a gazillion times after I’ve already decided, for the “last” time, that they’re finished, before I can hit “publish.” And even after that, I still end up changing a few things. Argh!

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  2. mistyslaws says:

    Whatever amount of whipping you are doing is perfect, Peg. And if you prefer whips to twerks, I say that’s your business. Carry on.

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  3. Me, too (also?). Sometimes I even tweak a post AFTER it’s published if I don’t think it’s quite good enough. Sometimes I even go back and tweak my replies to comments after a post is published. And even so, they’re never really perfect in my mind. I often wonder why people bother reading me at all!

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    • pegoleg says:

      I don’t know how many times I’ve left a conversation, especially a confrontational one, and said “Now, why didn’t I say X instead of Y?” With a blog, you get to rewrite history!

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  4. Elyse says:

    Peg, your posts DO show that you tweak them — I agree with you. Every piece anybody writes can generally be improved upon with a red pen. Now if we could just edit WP comments!

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    • pegoleg says:

      We can! At least on our own blogs. But I know what you mean about my comments. The big, fat errors scream out at me as I’m hitting Submit, but by then it’s too late.

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  5. Amy says:

    I do this with my fiction writing. I could tweak one short story for ever. One thing I’ve had to learn is that it will never be “perfect.” What does that even mean? Writing isn’t math; there isn’t one right answer. And my blog writing is the one place I let myself just go with it and relax. I consider this an informal convo with friends and my friends don’t pay much attention to my grammar, thankfully. :)

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  6. Kelly Grace says:

    I just read this in Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life, “It is the beginning of a work that the writer throws away.” So you’re in good company. Deleting a favorite word or phrase, especially the first words of any piece, the original kernels of thought, feels like giving up your firstborn ;) Choosing better words is harder than making really good pie crust, and even the great Seth Godin says, “there has to be, at some point, a ship by date.”

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  7. To each his own as long as it works and it does for you. Personally I write the blog in one sitting, and then review it once before I hit the publish button. Come to think of it – that explains a lot.

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  8. Al says:

    I suspect you have lots of company, Peg. There’s a screen somewhere that tells you how many times you have “revised” a draft. Mine are usually about 4 pages in length. And that includes scrolling. Just like cordealia, I often revise a post after it’s published. Why, I’ve even been know to refurbish a post that’s a couple of years old if I happen to reread it and see a change that would make it better. Never mind that no one will ever see it again.

    The worst of it is that if I make too many changes, I end up leaving in part of something I wanted out and not getting in all of what I changed to and the whole thing looks like my first day of grammar school….perhaps you’ve noticed.

    I could go on, but I’m late for my OCD support group meeting.

    Happy blogging….er…. I mean blog well….no, I mean have a good blog day…oh hell…write good!

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    • pegoleg says:

      I rarely change a post after it’s been put out. I was going to type never, but I just remember I was wandering through my own stacks the other day and saw a typo in one of my comments. Could not let it lie.

      I do refurbish posts, but only if I’m planning to repost them. Sometimes a fresh look can really improve them. Maybe that works if we let some time pass between visits.

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  9. lisaspiral says:

    It seems like most of your posts demonstrate a capacity for a good whip. :)

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  10. Doobster418 says:

    Welcome to my 25+ club. You can read about it here: http://mindfuldigressions.com/2014/01/21/the-25-plus-club/

    Maybe instead of calling it the 25+ club, which some may think refers to an age I long ago passed, we can rename it it The Society of Blog Tweakers or Tweakers Anonymous.

    By the way, Linda G. Hill (http://lindaghill.wordpress.com/) has a weekly exercise she calls “Stream of Consciousness Saturdays (or SoCS). She publishes a word or two on Fridays and asks bloggers to write a post using a stream of consciousness methodology that allows correcting typos but not editing or tweaking. It’s a fun exercise for those of who are OCD bloggers.

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    • pegoleg says:

      Haha! I never noticed the 25+ marker for edits. Nor did I ever think to obsess about how the post will look on a smartphone. Thanks for suggesting that.

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  11. Blogdramedy says:

    Every kind of “serial” needs milk.
    If that milk comes in the form of a liquid with a high alcohol content, I’ve heard that helps shut that bitch right down.

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  12. Carrie Rubin says:

    Oh, how I can relate to this one. I’m an endless tweaker, too. That’s probably why I only manage a post a week and why I’m now on a summer blog break. There’s only so much my brain can take…

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    • pegoleg says:

      Once a week works great for me, both as writer and a reader. I admire the dedication of more prolific bloggers, but gotta admit that sometimes the sheer volume of posts in my reader makes reading seem more like a chore than a delight.

      I can’t believe how many blogs are on break. Some seem to have totally closed up shop, not just for the summer. I guess burnout is a natural consequence of doing anything for a long while. Hope your break is going great!

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  13. The Cutter says:

    The worst is when you think you’ve finally got it just right, and send it to the world. Then you re-read it and realize just how clumsy it was.

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    • pegoleg says:

      Oh yeah. Sometimes I reread my stuff and think, “why didn’t that get FPd?” Then I look over other stuff and think, “why doesn’t WP have a crap-o-meter to automatically trash posts like this before I embarrass myself?”

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  14. Roxie says:

    ” Gah, this is way to much pressure! ” — Tweak

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  15. fellow tweaker here. but i guess i’d rather over edit than under. unless we’re talking comments, where i refuse to even capitalize. ;)

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  16. I tweak, constantly. I get that. It is hard not too.

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  17. Brilliant analogy – whipped cream is. Whip it good, girl!! Perfect video accompaniment to this very well-tweaked post.

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  18. Csagohan says:

    Oh god, I haven’t heard this song in over 5 years! Now I know what i’ll be doing for the next hour

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  19. I had an art teacher in high school, who used to love to tell us that “..’done’ is a four letter word” then smirk to himself at how witty he was. I can’t tell you how many drawings I ruined by listening to that knucklehead.
    As for your tweaking, just keep on whipping, we need the butter!

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    • pegoleg says:

      I never thought of that applied to drawing, but it makes sense. I used to be able to draw portraits, kinda-sorta, back in the day. But all I could do is recreate photos of people, after hours of painstaking effort. So I gave up. Haven’t tried to draw in 30 years.

      How I envy someone with real talent, like you, Dave.
      (staring at your pig, thumb-tacked to my office wall. I get a lot of compliments on it, FYI.)

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  20. Hello, my name is Darla and I’m a serial tweaker. Sometimes writing a post takes me forever because I edit every sentence over and over. Hell, I even tweak my comments on certain blogs in a sad attempt to appear wittier than I really am. It’s a sickness, really. (mostly because it never works)

    And I agree with The Cutter’s comment. I’ve made the mistake of going back and re-reading an old post and it’s painful. My writing is just awful, terrible crap and why do people read it?! It’s like looking at old high school photos of me with the mile-high permed aqua net hair.

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    • pegoleg says:

      I thought you rocked that mile-high, permed Aqua Net hair, Darls. And your writing is nectar from the gods; a gift to us mere mortals to be cherished until our dying days.
      (I would like some advice from Amy, formerly of Fix it or Deal, on that semi-colon use.)

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  21. We really should form a support group… but probably none of us would show up since we are too busy agonizing over every word of our blogs. Although I’m sorry to hear that you also have the sickness, I have to say that it did my heart good to see that it is shared by so many others. I no longer feel ashamed and alone.

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    • pegoleg says:

      We HAVE formed a support group. The problem is we are never satisfied with the wording for the notice of our first meeting, so it hasn’t been sent.

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  22. Laura says:

    I’m a serial tweaker too. I make a point of not going back and editing old posts, though, because if I did that, I’d never have time to do anything else.

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  23. Sandy Sue says:

    I read one blog that routinely sports weird grammar and spelling hiccups. While I prize myself as being a Grammar Nazi, I still love this blog for it’s unique content and sweet style. And I forgive all that other stuff without much thought. Perfection is a tail we can chase until we puke.

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  24. I’m glad you dealt with the “twerking” right away. I had to do a double (maybe triple) check on the title at first. Do you continue to tweak after your piece is posted? If someone points something out to me or gives me the impression it is unclear I fight with myself to not got back in and change it. Usually, the person pointing out this stuff is the same person I had look at it three times before hitting post. Makes me crazy!

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    • pegoleg says:

      No, I never go back unless there is an actual grammar or spelling error that somehow made it through my obsessive editing. Wish I could do that with comments on other blogs, though, as has already been mentioned.

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  25. Tweakers Unite! I’ve been a closet tweaker for years now. It takes me a crazy amount of time to write and edit each post. I’m glad I’m not alone. I’ve always admired the people who seem to write their posts effortlessly with little revision.

    PS – I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to read a post titled “Confessions of a Serial Twerker.”

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    • pegoleg says:

      I’d be lying if I said that’s an activity anyone would want to read about or, horrors, see, being done by me. Wouldn’t be pretty. Would be pretty damn funny, though, in a disgusting way.

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  26. Because I write for a living, I let my blog be a little looser. But it is still subjected to the process I use for writing which includes editing while writing, editing the sentence, editing the completed paragraph, then a final edit for piece flow.

    At my last job – and part of the reason I’m now self employed – I had two bosses who, I swear, thought that they weren’t doing a good job unless they found things to fix in articles I sent for approval. Fine, the first time. But on draft 14, when they’re changing things BACK TO HOW THEY WERE IN THE FIRST PLACE and we’re going to miss the deadline? Spork to the head.

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    • pegoleg says:

      I’m intrigued by the description of your editing process. It sounds very logical. Could you expand a little bit?

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      • Oh, it’s not logical. It’s barely a process. I’m one of those people who thinks in a squiggle, as opposed to my straight line thinking husband. But…

        It’s kind of like the ladder exercise in running – you start with a sentence and go back to the beginning. You finish a paragraph and go back to the beginning. You finish the next paragraph and go back to the beginning. You finish the piece and go back to the beginning.

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  27. dorannrule says:

    Whatever you are doing results in very entertaining reading! Don’t beat yourself up. Keep on tweaking! :)

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  28. frigginloon says:

    I am a re-poster. I find a spelling mistake and then have to re-post it. Then I find another one …and another one. Oh and then I think of a catchier title. OMG, I sometimes re-post a friggin post 20 times. Sure glad I’m not on my own email list!!!!

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  29. amelie88 says:

    You’re a real writer if you are a serial tweaker! I follow a couple of blogs of my fave authors (the ones who actually make money because they somehow acquired an agent) and even they go through the process of first draft, second draft, re-writes and edits by their editors.

    It will sometimes take me several days to draft a post, add pictures, hit preview to read it, re-write certain sections, delete certain sentences… I don’t think any writer is ever 100% satisfied with the finished product. It’s part of the writing disease.

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  30. kellybell66 says:

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Bravo!

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  31. zorbear says:

    I must admit that I have the same problem. I will occasionally run across a post I published years ago and I will start tweaking it before I realize what I’m doing. At one time I worked as a professional editor (in those days we worked on a substance called “paper”). I always kept the last two or three edits of any project. That way I could see when I was caught in a loop (usually changing passive to active and back again). It happened more often than I’d like to admit. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone…

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  32. Happy Summer, Peg! Well, to us you’ve got it down, girl. We don’t see the tweaking going on behind closed doors (nor do we want to) but we see a great product! Keep on writing and cut yourself some slack! :)

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  33. susielindau says:

    Hey Girl! I’ve been traveling and figured I’d missed a post or two!
    I was an art major and know all about overworking a project. I am still working on a draft of my book, but I’m getting close to the end. I hired an editor who had some great advice.
    I don’t worry as much about my blog. I let it fly, and be free! Which is probably why I noticed four days later that I’d written the wrong date for my Use Me and Abuse Me Party. It was on my sidebar in a text widget as June 28th. I noticed it today as I answered comments during the party. OOPSY!!!

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  34. Shannon says:

    I am a hopeless tweaker. I tend to spend 1-2 hrs writing the whole piece in an all-at-once fashion, let it sit for a day, them give it one good last read before hitting publish. Probably not enough time! Since the entire thing gets delivered to email rather than a truncated version like yours — I have lazy family that don’t like to click away from the email window — it leaves me little wiggle room from oopsies.

    Meh. I don’t care. The blog is really for me anyway! I mostly “repair” things that just don’t read right, aside from the blatant spelling errors. At some point, I just have to let it be. When the revisions reach the 25+ status, I know I’ve already spent too much time away from the kids and the kitchen is probably a disaster.

    Thanks for your post. Nice to know I’m not the only one.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I have one post I have been marinating for weeks/months, but I’ve been so swamped in real-life, I haven’t been able to finish it. How’s the exotic garden coming along?

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      • Shannon says:

        The number of draft posts collecting spiderwebs in my dashboard might actually be more than the entire number of posts published so far for 2014! I feel your pain for “swamped in real-life.” I try not to let it bother me too much, though, because the real-life part is pretty dadgum good these days.

        Garden is great, thanks for asking. Wish I could share with you some delicious, vine-ripened tomatoes with you — we are prolific with them. I learned this year what the true meaning of “run over like a melon vine.” I planted two and they took over my entire garden space. I hope you have a wonderful summer, Peg.

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  35. Aldog20171 says:

    I really enjoyed your blog. Very funny! Please check out my blog at BeGoodorBGoodAtIt.com as well. Thanks much and keep at it!

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  36. Margie says:

    It is nice to hear…strike out nice… it is a relief, yeah, a relief, to hear… strike out hear, I’m not hearing this, I’m reading it…It is a relief to read that there are so many other tweakers… is that how it is spelled… I better scroll up to the top of the page and check the spelling… how can I not know how to spell tweakers… I need chocolate. I can’t spell without chocolate… where was I?

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