February 22, 2011

How to Save Your Writing

I'd love to be brave, like Cynthia Leitich Smith, write a first draft, get to know my characters and story, then delete it. But I'm a pack rat when it comes to my work. Nothing goes away for good.

For each story, I create a file named EXCISIONS, and fill it as I revise successive drafts. Maybe it's backstory waiting for the appropriate placement. A scene that doesn’t quite advance the plot. Stilted dialogue. Tangents—oh, yes, lots of those!

I may never use any of it, but I feel better knowing it’s there. Just in case.

Since it's so easy to save things digitally, why not, if for no other reason than to show how much you’ve grown as a writer? Those reminders are priceless when you’re feeling low. And they'll come in handy when you've been invited to speak at schools and conferences (dream big!) about your writing process.

What about you? Do you have a special place for your deathless prose?