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!

What do you think? Please leave a comment!