Here is a problem I run into roughly every other day:
Me writing anything:
Lisa: OOOOH, this tangentially related information is FASCINATING! Surely my readers won’t mind an extra 5 or 6 paragraphs here or there?? Tis for their edjumacation! (*Embarks on giddy typing spree.*)
(5 hours and 4 million words later.)
Lisa: What have I DONE??
This leads to much weeping and gnashing of teeth when I then have to cut down my writing and destroy the beautiful prose I have created. Usually I can’t bear to delete it, so I copy and paste it to the end of the document, sparing its life for a full hour before I get up the guts to delete that selection and submit the article.
Or worse, it’s for something like this blog, where no one tells me how to live my life, and I just post it like that. The poor, poor public. No one wants to read all that! I don’t want to read all that!
This is why the lesson “kill your darlings” has been passed down in the writing world from the beginning of time, apparently. What it means is that “you have to get rid of your most precious and especially self-indulgent passages for the greater good of your literary work.” Look it up, it’s a thing.
The reason you love them, and also the reason you must kill them, according to Jon Franklin in “Writing for Story,” (a surprisingly great book for such a snore of title) is because they don’t really belong in your story(/article/blog/etc.), and therefore you had a pretty free hand when writing them, because you weren’t worrying about fitting them into your structure.
This helps me, because now I can think of murdering my work as a noble sacrifice for the good of mankind, as opposed to depriving humanity of my brilliance.
As an object lesson for myself, this post will be very short. Definitely for that reason and not because I’m working on all my final projects and life is crazy and what is sleep I remember a time when that was a part of my life.