The power of Rewriting

How might adapting stories help you notice your writing defaults and cliches?

The power of Rewriting

To celebrate the first day of having both our kids at nursery, my wife and I zoomed into London for lunch and To Kill a Mockingbird by Aaron Sorkin.

There are different kinds of writing - some you do to think, some you do to share, some you do just to exercise and grow your ability.

The latter can be the most difficult to practice. If you're writing to think or share an idea then you're absorbed in that goal, and likely to fall into your personal cliches.

The play made me think about what it must be like to take a story you know and love, and essentially try writing your own version from memory. A bit like exploring what's in your muscle memory, what's your version of that story that comes naturally from your biases and how it has hit for you.

In ways, it's reminiscent of the Aristocrats joke – where different comedians purposefully reinterpret the same joke as an opportunity to show their own particular style.

I think adapting stories you love, even in short form, could be another interesting way to do this. A way to hear your voice fresh, see your defaults more clearly, understand where you might want to change it – without the interference of a new idea in the mix.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I realise more and more how we become bundles of habits, some of which have worked for us, and some of which limit us. Finding new ways to burst those barriers a bit and appraoch things fresh feels really valuable rihgt now.