QoTD thinking big

If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

It is easy for me to write many words quickly, but writing a few good ones takes me longer.

Making anything of value — out of pixels or wood or words — includes time spent on editing and revision. The quick burst of creation roughs out the shape, but sandpaper, polish, and time are needed to find the lustre.

If you, like me, find rambling easier than revising, I would recommend this piece a friend recently sent me. It investigates the origins of the quote “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter”. It seems to be one of those persistent human observations that crosses boundaries of time and space. With versions of the quote traced to Twain, Cicero, Thoreau…

According to an anecdote published in 1918 Woodrow Wilson was asked about the amount of time he spent preparing speeches, and his response was illuminating:

“That depends on the length of the speech,” answered the President. “If it is a ten-minute speech it takes me all of two weeks to prepare it; if it is a half-hour speech it takes me a week; if I can talk as long as I want to it requires no preparation at all. I am ready now.”

Anything worth doing is worth doing well. Pass me the red pen fellas.


Related maker projects: Homemade turkey feather quill and acorn ink.