Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Trouble With Proofreading

I have always found proofreading works of writing of any kind, especially my own, painfully laborious. Not because of the amount of time and concentration that it takes to correct all of the little mistakes and debate over word choice, but because it feels like a repetition of thought. To quote an excerpt from Kurt Cobain's Journals, "When creativity flows, it flows." That free flow of thoughts is the life of any piece of writing, especially for someone whose thoughts fall to the paper faster than the speed of light. So, beyond ensuring correctness, why spend so much time proofreading? The only assured result will be the adaptation or censorship of one's own thoughts, which is something that no passionate writer should seek to do. 
To make another allusion to Cobain's published journals, "I like to have strong opinions with nothing to back them up besides my primary sincerity. I like sincerity. I lack sincerity... censorship is very American." Artists at heart often share this sentiment, yet why is it that musicians, painters, and performers require no "proofreading" of their acts? Practice is a separate issue, as it is a part of training. Art cannot be fine-tuned by the creator with analytical intentions, only dissected and desecrated. It seems that far more often than not, my attempts at proofreading serve as a second-guessing of my own ideas and convictions, which is something that I strive to avoid, but inevitably must do in an academic setting. 
I have to somewhat disagree with Jenny Nielsen's post on the "people first rule." Maybe if people weren't so hell-bent on being inoffensive and unbiased a lot more that needs to be said would be said.


  1. Editing is very tedious but necessary part of writing. I want to tell my story and not have to read it over a thousands times although, most of the time, the rewrites help produce a better product in the end.

  2. I liked the quote you used to prove your point about the creative innovation of writers. A teacher once told me that in order to create a masterpiece, you must first be able to "kill your baby." Though harsh and unethical, the meaning behind it stays true. As a writer, it is important to be able to look beyond what you write to make it that much more brilliant.

  3. Interesting thought about how proofreading could lead to censoring oneself. I hadn't considered that because when I think of proofreading I'm mostly considering technical errors, clarifying prose or dialogue, and not making huge substantive changes in content, theme, etc.