Monday, February 17, 2014

#WriterRecharge Update/Spring Cleaning My WIP

This month, I'm doing Sara Biren's Writer Recharge, a month-long event where participating writers set a goal and report on their progress each Monday. My goal is to write/revise 10-15 chapters this month. 

Last week, I completed two additional chapters, bringing my total of written chapters up to four. 

I also deleted an estimated 5,000 words. While spring cleaning my WIP can be such sweet sorrow (e.g. "But I patted myself on the back for days after I wrote this scene that demonstrates my writerly prowess!"), holding onto writing that no longer serves the big picture will only weaken my story. 

Holding onto Writing That Needs to Go is like clinging to a relationship with something or someone that is not helping you grow, but in fact, doing quite the opposite. While there might be something familiar and "easy" about staying in such a relationship or keeping around Writing That Needs to Go, you're headed for a brick wall. 

For those of you who find it hard to delete pages and pages of writing you labored over, here's a tip. For me, it's much easier to select my text, hit delete, and not look back if I have back up copies of my previous drafts sitting in a file somewhere. And even though I do have these the previous drafts for future reference, I actually don't  refer to them very often. But it's nice to know that they're there, in case I do need them.   

Note: Next week, I might post my #WriterRecharge Monday update on Twitter instead. On Twitter, I'm @CynthiaSociety. 

Is spring cleaning your WIP a challenge for you?

Have you ever held onto something or someone, and realized it was better for you to just let this thing or person go?

21 comments:

Pat Hatt said...

I usually just let go and away I go. So not so hard for me to do.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Good luck with the goals. I was so stubborn the first time I had to delete scenes. Once I finally did it I realized my manuscript was so much better for it. Now I keep better track of my word count to begin with so I don't have so many unnecessary scenes.

kiperoo said...

So brave of you to do do those deletions! I also keep around previous versions because you never know, but I also like to have a nice clean ms. In Scrivener I usually move entire scenes to my "deleted" section, where I have the "include in compile" checkbox unchecked. My own "deleted" section for my WIP is ever-growing. :-)

Creepy Query Girl said...

It's amazing how deleting large unecessary scenes can make room for some epic things or put focus on scenes that could be epic if given the right attention.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a great analogy. Like a lecherous relationship.
I've never had to cut such a large section, but I'm sure my time is coming.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I have gotten much better at letting go of those favorite scenes that don't serve the story. The more you do it, the easier it gets. And I console myself with this -- for every scene or cute line of dialogue I delete, I have the opportunity to write a different scene or cuter line of dialogue that serves the story better!

Colin Smith said...

While reviewing First Reader feedback, there were a couple of lines one had highlighted either because it didn't scan, or it didn't make sense. With most of these, I ended up deleting the line because I decided it wasn't necessary, and the passage sounded just as good, if not better, without it. In other words, it was better to delete and be done than waste time trying to fix it.

On the other hand, there are some lines one reader underlined telling me I must not remove them under any circumstances. Those are harder to delete. :)

Have a great week, Cynthia!

prerna pickett said...

two extra chapters! Woohoo! Cutting words can be painful, but necessary. i recently cut about 3k in my novel. Anything that helps the pacing, strengthens the plot and tightens the writing is worth the pain of losing those hard written words.

Gina C said...

cutting 5k words sounds so responsible and efficient! i usually write the opposite way - so sparsely, that i need to go back and add to those bare bones. though that doesn't mean i need to face down the little darlings that need to be squashed :0)

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I put my favorite deleted scenes and lines into a file I call the 'attic.' Every story I write has its own attic. I rarely take stuff out of the attic and put it back into the story, but it's there just in case. You're right, it is easier to delete if you know that what you delete is not permanently lost.

Kim Smith said...

Wow you hit the nail on the head for me on this one. I have 50 pages 12,500 too many words. I have to cut most of that. It is killing me but it really does have to be done. Thank goodness for my CPs they already are telling me where and how. I know it will make it a better book but THEY ARE MY DARLINGS! (lol)

Elodie said...

You did great!!! Deleting can be so difficult. I usually keep an extra file with all the deleted words and older draft. You know, just in case :-)

Elsie Amata said...

Oy! Deleting 5,000 words is commendable. I don't think I'd have the heart to do it. Go You!!

Vicki Tremper said...

I usually start with too few words, so I'm more likely to have to find ways to expand and amplify rather than cutting. Good for you on your spring cleaning! No easy feat!

Valia Lind said...

I'm terrified of deleting anything from my chapters because I have this fear that I won't be able to write anything else in. But it's a necessary evil! 5K is a lot to delete but you've got to do what you've got to do :) Keep it up!

Stephanie Faris said...

Deleting pages of text is liberating--especially if you've painted yourself into a corner and you know removing those pages will put you back in the right direction. Although, yes, it is good to always have a backup copy just in case...

Medeia Sharif said...

I no longer look back when I hit delete. I have older files too.

Winter Bayne said...

I never delete anything. I cut & paste it in another document.

Nicole said...

Congrats on making those cuts! I always enjoy seeing the post-editing version. ;)

S.P. Bowers said...

I never delete anything. I cut it and put it in a separate folder. It may come in useful later, or give me an idea for another book, or I just know that scene I labored on for so long still exists and I can go visit it if I want.

Makes it a little easier if I know it won't be completely gone.

Guilie Castillo said...

Oh, man, that holding on to Language That No Longer Serves--so hard to get past that. You're right, though: when one has backup copies it's easier to delete. I work with Scrivener, so every draft of a chapter / story has tons of snapshots, and--although, like you, I rarely if ever go back to them--they soothe my darling-hogger soul.

This month-long challenge sounds right up my alley... I'll have to keep an eye on it and see if I can participate later. My poor novel would be ever oh-so-grateful. So would the editor of the 2014 short story project I'm working on :D

Wishing you much word flow, and much courage with the snipping. It's the right thing to do ;)

Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

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