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The Confidence to Throw Something Away

At one time, writers were known for staying up all night, typing away at a typewriter or scratching away with a pen, surrounded by crumpled-up paper.

These writers knew one thing:  if they threw an attempt away, they had the confidence to write something even better.

I found myself thinking about this romanticized vision of a writer as I worked on my current novel this week.  I’d been struggling with a particular section for almost a week — rewriting it over and over, trying to see if I could get it to work.

Suddenly, it came to me:  the reason that I was struggling was that the piece didn’t fit.  I was trying to put a square peg in a round hole.

I pulled out a few of the elements that I wanted to capture with that section, and sprinkled them into the sections before and after.  After I then cut out the trouble section, everything suddenly fit.

Since then, I’ve only felt better about the decision.  Never have I felt so good about throwing something away.

The moral of the story is:  if you’re really struggling with a section, ask yourself if it’s really necessary, or if there’s another way to incorporate the ideas into your story.  The reason you’re struggling might be that the piece simply doesn’t fit.

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