I wrote a post for my other blog on "semantic prosody," a post that will appear later this week. As I neared the end of it I had the distinct impression that I had already written it. Sure enough, I did a quick search and found a post with the exact same title and the same ideas, more or less, in different order. Unfortunately, the earlier post was much better than the re-creation. I had obviously put a lot of effort into the first one.
I do a lot of rewriting that is not revision of a text that I have in front of me, but rather "blind rewriting." I simply write up my ideas again without looking at what I've done before. This is useful technique to take me away from my original formulations of my ideas. There is no particular magic in those particular sentences I wrote last month or last year. I can start again any time.
Now obviously it is a waste of time to do this too much. Where it comes in handy is when you aren't particularly happy with a relatively short piece of writer, or a short chunk of something, and you think it might be faster to rewrite it without having to fix bad sentences. The second attempt might be no better than the first, but I think the principle is a good one. Reformulate your ideas in new sentences to gain a fresh perspective. Usually if you can only explain your ideas in one way, then you don't really understand your own ideas very well. You should be able to write two essays with the same ideas without repeating a single sentence from one to the other.