Also called the “Sisyphus 5” rule.
Please pull all of these insights into a book - it would be the "strunk and white" of our times. You are quite seriously one of if not THE best stylist of your generation.
“I find if I can’t express myself in five tries, it usually means what I’m trying to say is so rancid in its stupidity that no amount of wordsmithing will hide the smell, and failure is my subconscious rebelling and screaming epithets to give up. Do so without shame.”.....maybe what you had to say was just for you or it could be stupid. Lol
I’m not sure this applies to poetry. Actually, I’m afraid it probably does -- it it doesn’t start to chug down the rails on its own after five good tries, the engine pushing this train is probably conceit and not inspiration. Beauty is about craft, goodness is about your intention as a writer but truth is the real hardass. You can’t fake it and you can’t fool it, and well crafted falsehood is the worst kind of dangerous.
I love you Matt. Right on target again! I've occasionally given up on some stinking piles of dog shit. And I always save my drafts because sometimes I'll go back to the beginning, when the inspiration first hit me. Here's my Substack on RV living if anyone's interested. https://davids4550.substack.com
the "5 Tries Rule" is certainly a strong argument for brevity - timesaver, too.
since I started writing the only piece that really didn't work was actually a commentary on one of your articles. I put so much work into it I ended up publishing it anyway lol:
In MFA programs they call this, "Killing your babies"... sorta weird analogy that has nothing to do with bathwater, but it works...
This rule will help me. I am currently on my third try at expressing my thoughts on a complex topic. It is a struggle. Perhaps After a fifth round, I will realize it is futile.
I am close to that, the five tries thing. I find, when writing, that if I cannot get my point across quickly, by working linearly sentence wise, than I either don't know what I am saying, or don't know enough to keep going. In other words, if I keep getting stuck on a thought, then I don't have enough to go forward with it. This doesn't mean I wont rewrite it later to make the whole project flow, but when I am that stuck, I really don't know what to say.