From The Incomparable podcast episode 354: Sons of Caledonia.
Dan Moren talking about writing a novel (audio):
The amount of time you spent writing that first novel… rewriting it is going to be more, probably.
It’s like playing Jenga, right? It’s like: “Oh my God, if I take this brick out right here, will this whole thing fall over?”
It’s trying to get yourself out of this mindset of: “Oh, my story is this delicate spiderweb, and if I break this one strand, the whole thing will fall apart.”
And trying to get yourself more in the mindset of: “My story is like a piece of iron, that is being worked in a forge.”
Where you’re hammering on it to make it tempered, to make it stronger than the thing it was originally.
Like you take a sword, and it’s all about folding the metal, hammering it, and trying to reinforce it. To the point where it’s not going break immediately. You can hammer on something pretty hard. To try to sort of work in the right shape.
That’s what you’re going for, when you’re rewriting. Otherwise, you just sort of get paralysed with fear that anything that you change will break everything. That’s not the case, stories are pretty resilient in that way.
And you can always fix it, is the good news.
This really resonated with me when I heard it. I think this applies equally to writing code as it does to writing in general.
Writing code is like writing a novel. The first iteration of the code that passes the unit tests, is just the very first draft. Now you can start rewriting.