When starting over

I heard of a writer who revises like this: he writes a first draft, prints it out, puts it in a drawer, and then pretends the house burned down—so he no longer has access to that draft.

To write the second draft, he starts over fresh.

He may be writing on a blank page, but he does not construct his revisions from scratch. All the best of the original draft rises to the top of his mind. Anything not worth keeping remains in the drawer.

Sometimes starting over can feel like a setback, the loss of a slate wiped prematurely clean. But we carry all our history to every new starting line. Beginnings so rarely start with truly empty pages.

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