We've all been in this situation: you write a first draft, or the beginning of one, and it seems like nothing is going well. All you want to do is give up and throw everything away. It can be extremely tempting, and while it's okay to give up on projects sometimes, you should never throw anything away.
3 Reasons You Shouldn't Delete Your Writing
The saying “one man's trash is another man's treasure” applies to writing, too. You never know what gems you'll find hidden amongst the abandoned or terrible first drafts. Here are three reasons why you should never throw anything away.
1. You can incorporate writing somewhere else
Sometimes a bad piece of writing isn't bad at all, it's just misplaced. A certain scene may not work for one story, but it could be the start of a different one. The same goes for characters who aren't working in certain stories.
Even a whole passage of description you're no longer keeping for one project can still be useful. All it takes is looking for one good line and it can become part of a poem or a song. Look at your writing with the eye of an experienced thrift shopper: anything can be transformed.
2. You can look back and see how far you've come
Whenever I'm feeling down about my own writing abilities, I can do one of a couple things to boost my morale. One option is to find a favorite piece of my own writing and reread it. Another option is to read something I wrote terribly.
This might sound counterproductive, but it works. The key for me is to find an old piece of writing that I've put several years of distance between. That way I don't reopen fresh wounds. Reading something you wrote years ago and recognizing how much your writing has changed can give you an instant surge of confidence.
3. The writing can become a deleted scene
Authors often release deleted scenes from their novels as a perk for their newsletter subscribers, or for a limited ebook release, or for any number of things. Readers eat those things up. But where do you think the authors got those deleted scenes in the first place?
From old drafts. Old pieces of writing they may not have ever wanted to lay their eyes on again. Had they not saved that writing, they never would have been able to share those scenes with their readers.
You may not be a published author with a thriving newsletter (yet), but my point is, you never know what your discarded writing can become.
RESIST THE URGE TO DELETE
Let your writing sit in a storage folder, collecting dust, no matter how much you may want to use it as kindling for your campfire instead. I promise you, the very thing you hate now could become something you love later.
What do you do with your old drafts? Let me know in the comments.
Take a look at some of your old pieces of writing you've saved but never done anything with. Salvage a scene or line of dialogue and use it to start a completely new project.
Try not to let it resemble the original writing in any way. Instead, take this opportunity to begin something new.