Why You Should Save Writing That You Don’t Use

Last week I shared my dismay over not saving all of my past work. Our past writing has potential value – be it for personal edification or for future projects – but in order to tap that value, we need to keep it.

Taking that thought one step further, I also see the need to save our writing that we don’t use. When we cut something from our “work-in-progress” (WIP), it could become useful later:

  • A cut character could be the basis for our next novel, a novella, or a short story.
  • A cut scene could become a short story.
  • A cut section from a non-fiction work could later be adapted into an article or a blog post.
  • Of course, there is always the possibility that what we have just cut may need to be added back later.

This also applies to abandoned projects. Sometimes I start an article, but it’s just not working out, so I stop before wasting any more time. A few years ago I published “Going From Good to Better” in Connections Magazine. I wrote – and abandoned – the first two paragraphs of that piece some five years before that, but it took half a decade for the rest to come into being. I’m glad I kept it.

I also make a point of saving emails containing significant messages. These could be useful content for a future non-fiction work or memoir – or if someone asks the same question again.

So save all of your writing, including everything you cut. One day you’ll be glad you did.

Has there been a time when something you cut was used in a later project?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get you copy today.]

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