Lincoln's birthday is coming up, I guess, and Adam made a poster of Lincoln for a school project. He asked me if I would "type up" some of the stories I've told him about Lincoln's sons, so he could staple it to the poster.
I said I had something written already -- but he didn't like it. He wanted me to delete all of it, start over, and "make it shorter. I just want the funny parts." I did, taking out even stuff *I* really liked such as Lincoln's good-bye (and to me tear-inducing) to the people of Springfield. Though I miss that part, the cuts vastly improved the piece.
And I wrote so much faster! I wish I could always have Adam in the room while I write. The approved draft was only one page. He wanted me to make two copies, "so I can give one to my teacher," and sign both. When I woke up the next morning, I couldn't resist doing a few parts over -- I drove them to Adam's house before school and he agreed that it was better with these (few) additions. It still all fit on one page.
This "make it shorter" (hearing it in Adam's voice, especially) is a great mantra -- for me, anyway. And I've found a trick that makes cutting thing I like easy. This is it: don't delete them, cross them out with Strikethrough. That way, the words are still there--I can tell myself that I can use them someplace else if I need to. But I won't. I don't even read them them when I'm revising-- and I bet when I get to the final draft, I'll delete them without reading them then, either.
This may all be really obvious but for me it's a liberation from the time I used to waste deciding and agonizing. I know some people save all editing and rewriting until they get everything done; but I like doing it this way. It saves time. And, by crossing out not deleting , I can count how many words I've written without doing mental arithmetic: "Really more because I took out those two pages...."etc.
The crossing out is just plain satisfying -- like bringing drab clothes to Goodwill and seeing how much more space there is in your closet.