Kill Your Babies
Kill. Your. Babies.
If you've ever gone to school for writing, or taken any class with the word "creative" in the title, you're probably nodding knowingly right about now.
If you haven't, you're probably wondering if grad school and an almost-full-time job have finally pushed me over the edge.
Murder. Your. Darlings.
The phrase comes in different variations but they all mean the same thing:
Spend countless hours creating something out of pieces of your very soul, and then spend even more hours cutting it to pieces.
This week's episode of "Nellwyn Writes A Book" is all about cutting. Or "hack and slash" as they used to say in theatre school.
My goal for yesterday and today was to cut 1500 words out of my ridiculously long 8000 word chapter. I'll be honest, I always knew it was too long, but when it came to the death of my words, I hadn't yet gotten to the "acceptance" stage.
But yesterday I could procrastinate no longer: It was time.
I cut twenty or thirty words and then I surfed Facebook for five or ten minutes.
I cut a couple sentences and then I sent a Snapchat of myself holding a steak knife with the caption "editing is hard!"
I cut a few more sentences.
And then I cut a paragraph.
Suddenly, I was on a roll! I cut 700 words and was nearly halfway there! All of a sudden so much of what I'd written seemed redundant and unnecessary. Another 700 words disappeared pretty quickly and the amazing thing was that once they were gone, I couldn't even remember what they were.
This afternoon I set myself on a different re-writing task but I still found myself hacking and slashing away. So far, I've cut about 1600 words from this chapter.
So what's the lesson here?
I guess the lesson is that editing is kind of like murder. It's really hard to get your head around at first, and nearly impossible to do. But once you get started, it actually gets easier and easier the more you do it.
Wow. That took a morbid turn.