“Write drunk, edit sober” is a maxim attributed to Ernest Hemingway. It may work well in fiction writing, but not for historical news articles.
Even though I took cold medicine before bedtime, I still could not sleep. What it did do was leave me feeling intoxicated and desirous for something to do.
I decided to write.
Within a couple of hours, I had tallied nearly seven-thousand words about mail trains. With the need for sleep finally kicking in, I saved my work, turned off the computer, and crawled between the sheets.
The following morning, I arose refreshed and ready to get back to the article. With coffee in hand, I powered up my computer, opened the document, and began to read.
“What in the…?”
There, somewhere between Neanderthal, Anglicised Cantonese in a Bavarian accent, and Washington DC idiocy was an editors nightmare. I discovered made-up words, words so poorly spelled that I could hardly make out what they were, and others made of random letters strung together.
And let us not get into the grammar of the thing.
It took me three hours of deciphering, rewriting, and deleting till I whittled the tangle down to 530 words, creating a cohesive article that even I understand now. I wish I could say I did this without cussing, but alas…
For my next news writing experiment: write drunk, and edit drunk.