Too Much Fixin’

We all wonder if our writing is as good as it can be. Rewriting is necessary since no one can write perfectly the first time. But there is a point where too much revising makes our writing worse, not better. Do you know how much fixing to do?

I’m going to write a paragraph—not a book or article or blog—on one topic. Then I’ll rewrite it several times. I need to evaluate how much information works best to communicate my point. Since I’m clarifying my ideas right now, it’s OK if it’s rough. Once I find a good balance, I’ll polish it with correct wording and punctuation.

1. Not enough description

I went hiking to Havasupai a few years ago, and it was one of the most gorgeous places I’ve ever seen. I hope to go back someday.

(The point is that Havasupai is a beautiful place. But where is Havasupai? How long is the hike to reach it? What is so gorgeous there?)

2. Still not enough relevant information

I went hiking to Havasupai a few years ago with several friends who lived in northern Arizona. It was so gorgeous! There are stunning waterfalls and pools that are literally aqua colored. Two famous ones are Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls. Havasu Falls dropped over reddish rocks over 100 feet, and Mooney Falls plunged over 200 feet! Also, the scenery is lush and green. I hope to go back someday.

(The friends live in northern Arizona, but where and what is Havasupai? That’s important to know. We know about some of the beauty now, but how long is the hike? Is there anything else we should know about this place?)

3. Too much description

I went hiking with several friends to a stunning destination a few years ago. They lived in northern Arizona and had hiked the Grand Canyon many times. They also hiked down to Havasupai, which is in a canyon next to the Grand Canyon. That’s where the Havasupai Tribe still lives. Havasu means “blue-green water” and pai means “people,” so Havasupai means “the people of the blue-green water.” And they DO have gorgeous blue-green water down there! There are stunning waterfalls and pools that are literally aqua colored. There are five famous waterfalls there. Two of my favorite ones are Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls. Havasu Falls dropped over reddish rocks over 100 feet, and Mooney Falls plunged over 200 feet! The waterfalls are so gorgeous, but also the scenery is lush and green. We even went through the water to climb on the rocks at Beaver Falls, then sat there and watched how it cascaded down the river. It looked like a paradise! But to get there, you have to hike down 2,000 feet on switchbacks for about ten miles. It’s a beautiful hike down and a wonderful place to camp and explore. But hiking back up is really hard. If you’re not used to the elevation, that makes it extra hard. Plus when I went, it poured rain on the way up. Water was gushing down the trails in rivers. It drenched us and made it treacherous. And then it snowed! We were completely soaked and freezing! That was one of the most dramatic adventures I’ve ever been on! But I loved the beauty so much that I hope to go back someday. This time I’ll be prepared for anything.

(This goes off into too many directions. The point is simply to relate the beauty of Havasupai. Talking about the tribe, the difficult hike, and the treacherous weather is going off subject.)

4. Tightening it up

A few years ago, I hiked with several friends to Havasupai which is in a canyon next to the Grand Canyon. It was a ten-mile hike 2,000 feet down on switchbacks, but the rock formations along the trail were stunning. At the campsite, we went to see the gorgeous waterfalls and pools that are literally aqua colored. Two of my favorite ones were Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls. Havasu Falls dropped over reddish rocks over 100 feet, and Mooney Falls plunged over 200 feet. The scenery was lush and green. I felt like I was in paradise! We followed trails along the Colorado River and explored many beautiful areas. It was such an unforgettable trip that I hope to go back someday.

(This is the right amount of relevant info to make my point.)

5. Second-guessing and rewriting—which makes it worse

A few years ago, I went hiking with several friends who were really great athletes (I was not). We went to Havasupai which is in a canyon next to the Grand Canyon. It was a ten-mile hike 2,000 feet down on switchbacks. That part wasn’t too hard, and the rock formations along the trail were stunning. First, we reached the Havasupai reservation, then we had to hike two more miles to get to the campsite. At the campsite, we went to see the gorgeous waterfalls and pools that are literally aqua colored. Two of my favorite ones are Havasu Falls and Mooney Falls. They are pretty famous waterfalls. Havasu Falls dropped over reddish rocks over 100 feet, and Mooney Falls are over 200 feet! The scenery was lush and green and looked like a paradise. We followed trails along the Colorado River and explored many beautiful areas. Some of the hikes were treacherous, and it rained and snowed on us on the way back up! It was such a dramatic adventure! But it was so beautiful that I hope to go back someday.

(Adding details we don’t need.)

6. Trying to fix it some more—which makes it worse

A few years ago, I went hiking to Havasupai with several friends who were really great athletes. If you’ve ever hiked the Grand Canyon, it’s similar, but what greets you at the bottom is completely different. It is a ten-mile hike 2,000 feet down on switchbacks. First, you reach the Havasupai reservation, then you have to hike two more miles to get to the campsite. At the campsite, you can hike to see the gorgeous waterfalls and pools that are literally aqua colored. They are so amazing and beautiful. We also followed trails along the Colorado River and explored many beautiful areas. We had to wear water shoes because the trail went through the rushing river in many places. Some of the hikes were treacherous, but most were not. Also, even though it was spring, it rained and snowed on us on the long hike back to the top! That made it super difficult with all the water gushing down. What an adventure! But it was so beautiful that I hope to go back someday.

(Adding in details we don’t need and leaving off ones we do.)

7. Going back to the best version (#4) and polishing it up.

A few years ago, several friends and I went to Havasupai, which is in a canyon adjacent to the Grand Canyon. The ten-mile hike along switchbacks snaked through stunning rock formations as we descended 2,000 feet to the canyon floor. At the campsite, we went to see the gorgeous waterfalls and vivid aqua pools beneath them. There are five famous Havasupai falls, but my favorites were Havasu and Mooney. Havasu Falls dropped more than 100 feet as it cascaded down reddish rocks, and Mooney Falls plunged more than 200 feet! They took my breath away. Lush, green vegetation added to the illusion of being in paradise. Following trails along the Colorado River, we reveled in the enchanting scenery. We also climbed on the rocks of Beaver Falls and enjoyed watching the water cascade below us. I’ve never forgotten this beautiful utopia, and I hope to go back someday.


Hopefully, you can see the need for a balance when writing. After you put down your ideas, see if you have written too little, too much, and try not to overdo your revisions. Also, keep each version separate so you can refer back to them as you revise. When you feel your writing is as good as it can be, get feedback from someone who knows how to write well. Their fresh perspective and feedback will help you polish it. (I did that with this blog post!)


Savvy Writer Tip:

Writing perfectly the first time is impossible. Reworking is a necessary part of the process, and you will often need to write several versions to get the right balance. Savvy writers thoughtfully revise their ideas so they communicate the right amount of information to readers. 🙂 

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