Every Branch Gets Pruned

“He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.” – Jesus

“If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare.” – Mark Twain

I must make a confession: I hate editing. For the most part, I enjoy writing and preparing. I absolutely love giving a sermon or any other form of public speaking. There isn’t quite the same in-the-moment thrill found in publishing a blog post, but seeing it “in the wild” is still cool. It is the step in between that I hate–the one that often differentiates between a good work and a great work.

This past Sunday featured the lectionary Gospel passage containing the image of the vine-grower, the vine, and the branches. Certainly, writing and preaching is not the original context, but it reminds us that pruning is an important process that leads to more fruit. It makes complete sense on the surface to remove what isn’t bearing fruit, but without flinching or pausing, Jesus reminds us that every branch gets pruned. That means the good, fruitful branches need to be pruned too.

Certainly some forms of writing and speaking need space and room to breathe. The idea isn’t that we compress passages for the sake of compressing–the goal isn’t to cut everything that could conceivably be cut. Instead, we are trying to find areas, even good ones, where cutting here produces more fruit on the whole. In fact, cutting may produce the space and room the piece needs.

On a couple episodes over the past few months, the hosts of the Scriptnotes Podcast have talked about editing screenplays. A piece of practical advice they have given is to create a file or folder where you keep the stuff you had to cut that has value. The parts that don’t work in one project may fit somewhere else, or it will simply help you to sleep at night knowing that your good work is somewhere other than just the trash can.

How do you feel about editing? Love it? Hate it? Endure it? Skip it? Are there any tips or tricks you have found to make the process any more bearable? What tools, processes, or people do you turn to in order to make sure your content is bearing as much fruit as it can?

Image by Flickr user John Morgan. Used under Creative Commons License. Cropped from Original.

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