Creative process: Everybody edits

One of the many things I love about Lin-Manuel Miranda is how transparent he is about his creative process, especially how he edits.

A few days ago, he tweeted this photo collage—drafts of the song “My Shot” from his brilliant musical Hamilton. (Yes, it deserves every ounce of praise heaped on it, and several tons more.)

Creative process: edit in progress. Lin-Manuel Miranda's drafts for one song from his musical Hamilton

Of course his creative process includes editing: Poetry that dense and complex doesn’t just materialize in an instant. And every single song in Hamilton is wall-to-wall with unexpected rhymes and metaphors.

“Songs take time,” he tweets. I don’t know too many people who would spend the time and energy to edit as thoroughly as Miranda. In fact, on the link to “My Shot,” above the photo, he says he spent an entire year on this one song. People write books in less time than that; then again, some people can spend that long on a chapter. A paragraph.

There’s no one “right” creative process. But if someone asked me to create a Ten Commandments for writers, I wouldn’t need a second tablet:

  1. What Lin-Manuel Miranda does: Do that.
  2. What Seth Godin does: Do that.
  3. Write every day.
  4. Put it out in the world.

Your creative process

Now, stop reading and go write something.

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