Your Writing Compost Pile

Can you identify with the following statement?

“Every word I write is filled with wisdom and will inspire readers for decades to come?”

Yeah, me neither.

So what do you do with those words that don’t ‘make the grade’?

Today’s post is inspired by Sandy Bush, author of the forthcoming novel “Money Man,” and by class discussion with author/illustrator/editor-extraordinaire Laurie Edwards at Novel Idea 102.

It can be downright painful to delete words you’ve painstakingly planted, and even worse to later realize you wish you had them back. So what can you do to avoid the burn?

Create a file on your computer (or if you’re kicking it old-school, a folder on your writing desk) where you can cut and paste all the “darlings” that had to go – those beautiful turns of phrase that were perhaps too flowery for this manuscript, but might someday blossom in a new home.

I liken this file to your writer’s compost heap… it is filled with lots of good organic stuff that isn’t useful in its current state, but when combined with other stuff might become just the fertilizer you need to grow some powerful prose.

But just like a real compost heap, this file will only be as useful as the attention you give it. If you simply relegate the darlings and never revisit them, you’ll be left with a hot stinking mess!

Instead you have to routinely turn the soil. Set a calendar alert to remind you once or twice a year to go back through this file and sift the pearls from the dung. Perhaps you’ll create a new file with “ideas for future books” or “awesome character descriptions” – or if you’re like me… you might discover your weeding instincts were right all along, and most of the file can be deleted without remorse.

Either way, your writing garden will be fresher after the pruning.

Write with joy!

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