When you have to delete a thousand words


They say a picture paints a thousand words but I guarantee you no one has ever said anything about how it feels to be a writer and to have to delete a thousand words! Let me take you through it.

Imagine taking a red hot poker and stabbing it through your heart while watching the saddest movie in the world as the song that always makes you cry is playing in the background. Well, let me tell you that is nothing compared to the pain you feel as a writer when you have to delete several thousand words of a book you’ve been writing, and start again.

I’m not just suggesting about one paragraph will do it (though that can hurt too – especially if it’s a particularly good one), I’m talking about whole chapters. And nothing can prepare you for it either. Oh yes you may be a seasoned, published Author who has been through this before, maybe you’ve written a few books, maybe even 20, and perhaps you believe that when the time inevitably comes to bin all those verbs, adjectives, and sentences that you can hack it. You’re tough. You might even believe your own bollocks.

But I can tell you right now that you are lying! It will hurt you. Hurt you bad! It will rip your insides into shreds, and compress your soul into a tiny ball the size of an atom. It will slap you across the face and leave you staring blankly into space as emotionally you say goodbye to all those hours of work. All those ideas. Those conversations. Perhaps even a murder or a dinner party. That’s all gone now. I bet you even save the old version too. I know you will. Of course you will. I do. I keep it in a special folder called “old”. I keep it just in case. I keep it as a reminder that before I was sitting at over 70,000 words but now I’m trapped in the stark reality of 42,630. I might as well be back at the bloody beginning creating my chapter outline or story boarding that shit for all it’s worth!

For all that though, I have to look on the bright side of life right? My story will be better for having disposed of that chaff. It will be a fevered phoenix rising from the ashes of my earlier attempts. I’ll add more detail, change direction, the conversations will get smoother, more exciting. And I’ll get over it as soon as I get back the words that the delete key has stolen. Back on the page, back in the next chapter, flying along at 90 miles an hour.