When I delete something from a work in progress—be it a book, article, or post—I try to save it. Often it comes in handy later.
Last week’s post, How Much Has Your Writing Progressed in the Past Year?, was running long. I shortened it to make my point more succinctly. I deleted content that didn’t move the piece forward, removing words that failed to connect with the theme or advance my thesis.
One sentence I deleted was:
“We can always improve as writers—and I hope we always will; we need to guard against becoming complacent and settling.”
For years, I was complacent with my writing. My goal was to complete each piece quickly, not to improve. And though writing with regularity helped me to write with greater speed, the quality of my words remained unchanged. At the time I deemed my writing as “good enough”; I had settled.
Then one day I made a mental transition. I uttered the career-changing words, “I am a writer.” I became empowered. An attitude adjustment started that day. Writing with speed merely to reach the end ceased to be my sole goal. Stringing words together to call attention to my prowess as a writer exposed itself as shortsighted and selfish.
I desired to improve. And I have. Though the path is long and I will never reach my destination, I persist in moving forward, growing as a writer with each step. I discover techniques to pursue and habits to discard. I’m picking up tips and developing strategies.
One practice I adopted is saving the things I delete. And today that gave me the basis for this post.
How has your writing improved? What are you doing to become better?
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!