Turning Your Rough Drafts Into Gems

(I know it's not quartzite, but it's pretty.)

“Mom, what does sandstone turn into?”

My daughter recently finished a geology unit at school, and was quizzing me on the things she’d learned.

“Quartzite,” she said. “What does the sandstone need to turn into it?”

She didn’t really wait for me to answer. “Heat, pressure and time.” She launched into an explanation of the process, using her hands to illustrate the pressure transforming the metamorphic rock.

It got me thinking about writing. (Okay, most things make me think about writing.)

The process writers go through transforming a work from first draft to finished project is similar.

The writing process requires heat, in the form of energy, passion.

It requires pressure, in the form of revision. Putting each sentence under scrutiny, and making it do as much work as possible.

And it requires time. Time for writing. Time for letting a manuscript simmer. Time for critiques and revisions. Time to cultivate the next idea.

Remove any part of the process and you don’t end up with a finished project. You still have sandstone instead of quartzite. And what is sandstone, compared to quartzite? Weak. Brittle. Unable to stand the test of time.

I guess the takeaway is simple: trust the process. Provide the energy. Do the work. Give it time. You may just end up with a gem.