We’ve all got them. They’re tucked away somewhere, possibly in a box or a drawer. They’ve been there for years some of them, gathering dust, unloved. Occasionally, they are languishing in the dark corners of our laptops, tucked inside an obscure file, the titles only half remembered. All of them waiting for the day they are taken out, polished up and given another chance to shine.
As writers we learn our trade by writing stories. Sometimes our early efforts are some way off the mark and if we happen to come across them years later we cringe as we read them. We are always our own harshest critics in those circumstances, mentally editing the text as we read, tutting at the mistakes that are obvious to us now, wondering how we ever thought the work was good enough.
That said, most writers will usually find something to admire in those early pieces. It could be a title, a description or sometimes just a single sentence. We come across it and we nod with a half smile and think ‘That’s not too bad’. And that is why writers should never throw away any piece of work or press the delete button on that abandoned work in progress. You never know when you might need it again.
Sometimes whole chunks of writing can be discarded because our sense of the novel changed as we were writing our first rough draft or the character was wrong for that particular book or the plot took a turn we weren’t expecting. Still more writing is lost to edits, pieces deemed an over indulgence or a flashback too far. However disheartened we are at the time, we must never give in to the urge to throw any of that work away.
Instead, we should always tuck those pieces inside a future folder. Chances are there is something salvageable in each and every one. Perhaps the idea was just too big for your younger self to grapple with and you needed the experience of another ten years of writing under your belt before you could finally do it justice. Usually though it is a smaller section of a larger piece we can make use of again in a different way, in a new story. That character description we were always quite pleased with but which got lost in the story we put around it. A title that was better than the story that followed. A killer opening line or a closing twist that just needed to be linked to a story of the same quality.
So next time you find yourself blocked or the new work in progress is failing to ignite, take a walk down memory lane and open up that drawer or box or click on that obscure file. Amongst the dross, and there will be dross, probably lots of it, but amongst the dross, I bet you’ll find a few diamonds waiting to be rediscovered, polished up and given a new chance to shine.
Today’s blog is the latest in my Flower Seller Thursday collection of writing related blogs leading up to publication day of my debut novel The Flower Seller on Thursday 2nd June 2016 #FlowerSellerThursday
The Flower Seller Kindle edition is now available to pre-order from Amazon via my website http://goo.gl/0Gv8Jg