I’ve deleted a lot of words.
I’ve left ENTIRE novels to rot on my hard drive.
I’ve re-written some of those “left to rot” novels without opening the original document.
I’ve cut chapters. Words. Characters. Places. Favorite lines. Favorite scenes. Lovely characters.
I’ve re-done entire endings. Sometimes more than once. Sometimes more than 5 times…
I’ve re-organized and spend all day deleting and adding and then deleting and then adding… All on my way to some kind of finished product that’s worth seeing the light of day.
But every word written, every scene, every chapter, every character, every terrible novel that I deleted, re-worked, cut, or left to rot, got me something. Several somethings.
- Helped me be a better editor
- Gave me a more critical eye when it comes to my own work
- Helped me be unafraid to do a REAL revision instead of a patch revision (don’t shift your eyes, I think we’ve all done the “patch” revision instead of the real one – even though we all know they never work)
- Made me know that sometimes words, chapters, characters, threads, plots, should be left alone, and again, helped me be unafraid of starting over, of leaving things behind.
The thing is – as long as we’re writing, we’re moving forward. People don’t start running and then head to a marathon. Every word we write is training. Some of those words stay. Some go. Some ideas stay. Some go. But they ALLLLL help you further your writing goals. They all get you a step closer to a finished product.
So. Next time you’re faced with the awful realization that your fav character doesn’t need to be there, or that one funny scene doesn’t quite fit, or that your book just isn’t… Just isn’t going to sell without a complete re-imagination, I hope you remember that there are no wasted words, just lots of steps that get you to your finished novel. And then chant to yourself as you hit delete, “There are no wasted words.”