The problem with (human) definitive

I try to write definitively. I want what I write to hold true forever. I want it to remain timeless.

While this is a wonderful mindset for writing now, it can ruin my writing if I look backward with the same mindset.

For example, if I write today, return to it tomorrow (or a year from now), and assume the old writing is definitive, I lose.

It allows no room for change, no room for growth, no room for improvement. That’s the problem with writing definitively.

I might look back on my writing a year from now and think, “That’s what I thought then. How can I fit what I write now with what I wrote then?”

If I ever reach that stage, I’ve slipped into atrophy.

It’s like science. Yes, it’s useful for scientists to look back on what others have discovered, trying to make their new theories mesh with the other theories.

But – and this huge – this strength can turn against the scientist, stifling further discoveries. The scientist must remember: to err is human – to correct, divine.

Definitive, by definition, kills progress.

What I’m saying is this: if everything we think now has to fit with everything we’ve ever thought before, we’re hopelessly stuck.

Sounds obvious in writing, but it’s far from it in practice.

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