You know that feeling.
You’ve been writing for an hour and you’re not sure if any of it is usable. Each word you write feels like you’re swimming in spaghetti. Every time you pound the keys, the grip around your gut gets tighter. How do you know when to highlight the text, hover over the delete key and punch it?
If any of the following scenarios apply it might be time.
Adjust the Facts:
You’re trying to write on a subject that you haven’t done enough research on. Save the relevant facts into a new document. Hit the delete key for the rest and do more research. Then come back later and write a better, well-informed article.
Don’t use the Force:
Sometimes what you’re trying to write is a particularly creative idea. Yet, you haven’t given the idea enough time to form. Erica over at Rubber-Ducky Copywriter would say, “Let it marinate.” Sometimes creativity is a bit like a slow-cooker. Trying to force the idea won’t work. The key is having lots of ideas simmering at the same time so that you have something else to work on. Keep a record of the idea, but if there are no useable parts to save and come back to, it may be time to highlight the text, and hit that delete key. Isn’t this fun?
You’ve overdone your research. You have too many thoughts, facts, and ideas for one post, chapter, or speech. You’re going in too many directions while trying to fit them all in. You may realize you have enough information for three or four pieces. Like a circuit breaker designed to cut the power when there’s an overload, your brain is telling you that there is too much information for one article. Perhaps, you have enough for a series of related articles. Put each idea in another file, highlight the rest and strike that delete key.
Clearing of the Cobwebs:
Many books on writing talk about doing a “brain dump” once a day or as needed. That’s when you sit with a notepad or a blank computer screen and freely write whatever comes to mind. I do find it helpful. I’ve done this on paper, but most of the time I use the computer. Sometimes I might print one out and keep it in a folder. It unclogs my mind, but I don’t usually save them on my PC because I don’t want to clog up computer space. Sometimes I type an article from a magazine just to get my fingers and my mind moving. If I’ve typed this way, and I don’t want to print it out, it’s time to use the delete key.
Some days it is difficult to delete your words, but at other times it is downright fun. It’s sort of magical to banish a batch of words at the touch of a button. I believe in words. I also believe in silence. One great sign of maturity for a writer is realizing that just because words come to mind doesn’t mean you have to use them.
For example, Robert W. Service was a prolific writer and poet who lived from 1874 –1958. He wrote most things humorously. His works included poems, nonfiction and fiction. His poems, which he called “Verse,” were not considered “Serious Poetry” by certain scholars. He was mocked by many of them for writing what they called, “Popular Poetry.” Yet, Robert took the criticism in stride and he also said, “Be sure your wisest words are those you do not say.”
That’s good advice for speaking, writing, and life. I know this post is all about knowing when to delete, but don’t forget to keep writing.
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