I do my best work when I erase, these words were written in freestyle on a painting I saw last year in an art gallery. The work featured an old-fashioned yellow pencil. The eraser cap, darkened with pencil lead was mostly worn down and the eraser dust had collected at the bottom of the page next to the text.
What was the artist trying to get across? I think her message was about margin and freedom to explore. She was encouraging us to allow ourselves the time and the freedom to try on ideas, perspectives, and if you are working on a case for support, to try different lines of argumentation. To me, she was saying that it’s okay — even desirable — to start a case, an appeal, an article or proposal many times over, and to contrast and compare to see which is stronger and better.
Anne Lamott is a celebrated American writer. I am a fan of her work. I especially like her book on writing, called Bird By Bird. In it she shares that she labels the first draft of her work, A shitty first draft. Can you feel the pressure lift? With that header you are free to dabble with words and ideas. Free to explore. You can stop worrying about producing something brilliant and sparkling. When you do, you are more likely to produce work that’s brilliant and sparkling.
This writing process takes time. The thing is, if you don’t allow for the process you may end up with a less-than appeal or a less-than case statement. And that would be a shame.