Is Writing a Waste of Time?

New Australian research conducted by consultants Ernest & Young found the average employee wastes 50 minutes a day on work that will either be binned or not used.

It obviously goes to show they didn’t survey many writers.

After a full writing day I might have 8,000 words. I’ll be ecstatic if I can salvage 2,000 of those. At the end of the first draft there might be 750 left and in the final draft I could be lucky and keep a phrase I like or even a whole sentence.

I’m not game to do the sums to find out how much time I would be seen as wasting. Obviously it would be shockingly high.

For me writing is a process of exploration, with false starts, dead ends, blind alleys, and also perseverance – above all, perseverance.  It involves searching, observing, examining, and all the time, writing. Writing to record, to probe, to analyse, to experiment, to understand, to imagine.  

It’s then a matter of laying out the copious amounts of writing, recognising the good leads and putting aside the rest. And I’m off writing again, to shape my ideas, to hone in on exactly what it is I’m trying to say, and to select the words that will express the final work in the most precise and luminous way

Without all that work I can’t get at the deeper meaning of what I write.  

Without it, I wouldn’t have anything worth reading.

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5 Responses to Is Writing a Waste of Time?

  1. Maree says:

    So true Karen. A clever writer once told me it’s about getting the words and ideas on the page and then unpacking the treasurers and discovering the gems, or cherry picking the best bits. This often takes time and lots of words on pages.

  2. Margaret jackson says:

    It is so encouraging hearing how a successful writer also struggles at times but comes through triumphant in the end with gems. No! writing is not a waste of time – as you say “Without all that work I can’t get at the deeper meaning of what I write.” I think ‘all that work’ is what makes for outstanding writing.

    • People don’t expect musicians to play in the Sydney Philharmonic without first playing wrong notes and doing lots of practice. I agree, all that work is necessary. Thanks for your contribution, Margaret.

  3. I wonder if Ernest and Young need to reconsider whether the binned /not used work was necessary for quality development of the rest of the work completed… Interesting blog post, Karen!

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