I used to believe that once I have written something I must keep an iron grip on it in order to preserve wordcount. Similarly I also used to believe that I if I wrote a passage, or even a sentence, that seemed especially eloquent or pithy, I must, at all costs, keep it in the manuscript, because … eloquent! Pithy!
This anxiety literally kept me stuck for months. I spent hours massaging a few particular passages thinking that I was perfecting the language when really I was just procrastinating. Once I had invested that time, I didn’t want to scrap the passages, so I hung onto them and tried to make the rest of the book fit around them.
Trouble was, they were pivotal points in a plot that needed drastic revisions in order to make sense and the revisions would mean that those points would have to go away.
There were other factors that contributed to a long period of fallowness but I am convinced that part of the blockage was those overloved passages. I know this because once I decided how I was going to reshape the plot, and then let those passages go, the new plot came together really quickly.
There are two morals to this story. One is that just as you have to sometimes let go of word count to allow new word count to grow, sometimes you have to let go of plot points to let new plot points to develop. It might feel uncomfortable, but you have to just take the loss on the time you spent ‘perfecting’ the parts you later scrap.
The other moral is that once you develop the skill to write well, you can write well today, tomorrow and every day after that. So, there’s no reason to hang on to your “good writing” for fear that that’s the last of it. It’s like hoarding and we all know that hoarding is never healthy.
Educated by the Indiana public school system, the University of Chicago, and the school of hard knocks, Jennifer Lesher has enjoyed a career ranging from warehouse production supervisor, to fishing and shipping industry laborer, to manager of support and programs for a large technology company.
Recently Jennifer effected a career change, leaving her job in the high-tech industry to pursue certification as an airplane mechanic.
In her hours away from school, she writes fiction, mountain bikes, and mainlines caffeine.