Sometimes the Best You Can Do is “Delete”

Most little girls sit in their princess costumes, watching princess movies,  singing along and wishing that they were a princess too.

And though I did enjoy watching the dashing prince slay the dragon, I was also watching something else. 

I was the little girl watching Agony and the Ecstasy, aspiring to be the next Michelangelo. (Obviously this did not happen.)

There was one great life lesson that that movie taught me (besides running away from your problems into the mountains, and that art is always the priority even when the enemy is about to blow you sky high).

“If the wine is sour, throw it out.”

I had no idea how much this would apply to writing. (And to life in general – but let’s not go there.)

This saying applies particularly in the editing stage of writing (which I am neck deep in so if I keep talking about it a lot, please excuse me).

Editing is the time to fix. The time to fill in the plot holes. To flesh out characters. It’s also the time to weed through the good and the bad. The treasure and the junk.

“If the wine is sour, throw it out.”

I think most writer like to fix things. We’ll spend hours working on one scene, or days struggling over a character.

But sometimes it’s never right. Sometimes you can work and work and work and work on something but still it just – sucks. 

Whether it’s a character, a scene, a location, or a name, you will find elements in your story that suck.

So what do you do? Fix them? Maybe. Some things can be fixed. But if you keep looking at that “sucky thing” and get a “sour” feeling every time you do….if you cringe just thinking about it…..

It’s probably not worth saving. 

If there’s one thing I learned it’s that deleting something that isn’t working, changing that name that you hate, changing the location – instead of trying to fix it – is the best and most relieving thing ever. 

“If the wine is sour, throw it out.”

If you hate a scene – just get rid of it. Just as the saying goes “kill your darlings” I would like to add that you should also “kill your nemesis-es.” Because if you don’t like it – why do it? Why keep it??

Get. Rid. Of. It. 

And then you can move onto the next thing.

That’s all I got to say. 

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5 responses to “Sometimes the Best You Can Do is “Delete””

  1. You are absolutely right. I even derive some perverse pleasure from scrapping chunks I’ve slaved for hours creating.


    1. YES. It can surprisingly satisfying.


  2. […] Our top ranking post so far was last week’s “Sometimes the Best You Can Do is Delete”  […]


  3. […] If the scene is actually boring, just grab it, crumple, it and hurl it into the abyss. Hit “delete”.  […]


  4. […] As I’ve said before, sometimes the best thing you can do is delete. […]


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