Monday, November 11, 2013

To Delete or Not to Delete, that is the question...

NaNoWriMo is in full swing. Writers are huddled over their laptops, scrabbling to hit their daily goals, which makes this post timely.

Don't Do Eeeet!!

There comes a day in every writer's world when everything they've ever written looks like a steaming pile of camel dung. When the writer gazes upon this monstrosity, this absolute insult to the English language and slap in the face of all literary genius, they must do the logical thing. Delete. Crumple and toss. Shred. Burn the words, eliminate them from existence, retire the writing cap and start a nice vegetable garden.

Instead, I'd like to offer a viable and word saving alternative.

Walk. Away.

No, don't walk, run. Close the word doc, step away from the laptop or desktop or Moleskin notebook and do your laundry. Go for a walk. Go watch a movie. Read a book.

Anything but deleting all that you've written.

Stephen King started writing Carrie, hated the girl and hated the story, tossed it in the garbage and his wife salvaged it and said, "Moar."

Well, not in those words, but I'm sure it was something like that.

Anyway, he talks about that in On Writing and mentions that his first great book, the one that changed the course of horror writing forever, started out as something he tossed in the garbage.

I can't begin to tell you how many of my stories I started writing, stopped and hated, closed...and went back to later and wrote.

Hating your work is okay.

Yesterday was one of those days for me. They happen. I have gotten to the point that I recognize when I'm wriggling in loathing and I don't write. I market, I blog, I make a meatloaf, whatever...but once I've gotten into that swing, I don't write.

When I DO mass deletions (sometimes they happen. Sometimes you really DID write garbage or that scene CAN'T go in the book...this is a reality.), I stick it in a word doc called :

(Title Of Book)_Deleted

Just in case because, sometimes, I need those words later. If I don't, swell! I deleted correctly and those words are garbage. Or maybe those words are a 'secret scene' that ends up a blog post someday. Or maybe those words will only live on the harddrive of my laptop until some autobiographer drives his hover car to my house in the year 2187 to research me. Who knows? But I don't ever just DELETE them. I might need them later.

Since we're mid NaNoWriMo and everyone is bent on hitting word count goals, I figured it was a good time to mention this. Some days, you shouldn't write. Some days the best contribution you can give literature is the deletion of words and others it's the ability to NOT write or delete. And that's okay.

There is always tomorrow.

Happy Writing! (not deleting!)

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