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September 17th, 2022


Recently someone pointed out that an experienced and skilled artist can toss a drawing away and start over with little thought or concern. Amateurs will toil away at something that can never get much better because they don’t have much to show for. They try to improve what little they have, failing to realize that it’s more efficient to just start over. The master draftsman isn’t so unattached because of a sizable cannon of work, but simply because it’s just faster to start over in order to get somewhere good.


This has happened countless times here on Tinkered Thinking, both with Lucilius Parables and regular entries. This very entry started off three different ways, with three different titles, and while one of those false starts was saved for perhaps another day, the other one is already lost from memory. This isn’t to imply some sort of mastery over writing, but after a thousand and some odd essays and stories, the psychological experience is far… lighter, casual, and playful. Writing can be serious business ( always too serious if even just a little serious, in this writer’s honest opinion ) But as soon as all that cramped spirit released, words have a much easier time coming to mind.


But the technique or advice can be imported. Currently a little chess app is in the works and just today I rebuilt it twice, tackling different aspects of functionality as I wiggle my way around a tech stack that I’m not all that familiar with. While I’m making good progress with the latest iteration, I already have plans to start anew tomorrow. None of this is all that repetitive, it’s more as though you’d built a blossom before the leaves and done so without stem and seed. Rebuilding isn’t so much a total restart as it is an iterative cumulation - the same way we might race through and obstacle course over and over, each time figuring out some aspect of the course that can improve performance on the next run. 


Perhaps the most approachable example is when we stutter to start on some point, as the mind rewrites our opening sentence as we say it. It’s hard to think no one hasn’t had this experience: we get half way through our first sentence and the mere hearing of that sentence gives us a better idea about how to go about our description or argument, and so it necessitates starting over. 


All of this boils down to a priority of moving, especially when stuck. Without the ability to abandon some nascent effort and restart, getting stuck can be a serious waste of time. And the time it takes to succeed is always good to cut down. As counter-intuitive as it might seem, starting over is often quicker…

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