3 ways to resist the rewrite

Writing copy on a good day with a well known subject usually flows well. It will be read-through on completion and then passed around colleagues for a second opinion. I then arrive at a version that both me and my stakeholders are happy with and this makes the final cut. The problem arises when I  re-read the content further down the line.

If I return to web text or published brochure I  immediately want to start afresh with it. The good news is that I have recognised this as an issue – people at work have to prevent me reading content from the past that I don’t have the time or reason to change! This is how I address it:

How I learnt to resist the rewrite

  1. Copy is a snapshot in time

I recognise that it is in my nature to improve, which in turn drives the standard of my copywriting higher. What I have come to appreciate is that like a car model can look dated once a new version has been released, copy can be affected in the same way. At the time of production and approval, it worked but has a shelf-life because everything around it has changed.

2. It is natural to be critical of your own work

I am becoming more adept at critiquing my work in the right way at the right time. In doing so I am managing quality which is a necessary process. Although I won’t hand over work I am not happy with, I recognise it is natural to have the feeling that with more time, on a better day, in a calmer environment etc. I could improve on my content.

3. Stay away from that which you cannot change

I am learning to stay away from ‘content past’, until I have a remit to revisit it. The urge to change will never leave me, so I keep temptation at bay. Bear in mind point (1) and look forward not backward.

So next time you feel the twitch of ‘version 2’, stay strong. I know I will be sitting on my hands trying not to give in.

Is it just me that feels this way?

Do you feel the rewrite urge?


About the author: Rebecca Greenwood


Creative professional marketer and copywriter with a passion for amateur photography

This article was first published by Rebecca Greenwood

1 reply
  1. Randy Kershner
    Randy Kershner says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Rebecca – enjoyed the read! My first thought was, “Why would you WANT to resist the re-write?” But then I realized you meant after it’s been submitted or published, etc. I think it’s common for most writers, at least for you and me, to have the urge to revise and perfect our work – and sometimes it’s remarkable what you can bring back to a work in progress with fresh eyes, after separating from it for a time. That’s why I always try to put aside a piece of writing for a spell – usually at least an overnight if I can. When I re-open it, it’s amazing how many edits I make and how much sharper it usually turns out. In the case of a piece of work that has been submitted/accepted/published, well, that can be frustrating, as you point out… but maybe sometimes still valid to consider a rewrite here or edit there, in case you have the chance to write again for that client (maybe a re-issue of that piece, or another project for which you can borrow language from the previous piece). Let that “snapshot” sit, but maybe not a bad idea to keep improving on it for future versions or other similar projects.

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