This, believe it or not, is actually some of the best advice I’ve ever received, and I’m afraid to say that I received it so long ago that I have no idea who initially suggested it to me. It’s exactly as it sounds, though – you don’t actually delete anything you’ve written.
By this, I don’t mean that every word must be kept, and certainly not in the initial manuscript it was written for. What I do mean, though, is that when you are editing your work, it’s a good idea to have a separate document open as a personal slush file. Whenever you cut a significant bit of writing from your story – say, more than a couple of sentences – try cutting and pasting it into that slush file instead of getting rid of it altogether. That way, when the time and inspiration is right, you can use it for another story, or as inspiration for another scene or character.
I guess this is a long-winded way of trying to stress that our creative juices should be valued. Just because a particular scene or piece of dialogue doesn’t fit one story or a particular place in that story doesn’t mean it’s not going to be good – albeit slightly edited – somewhere else. And, speaking from experience, it’s well worth it. I’ve adapted countless thoughts, conversation snippets and whole scenes from old stories to fit new ones, and usually they’re a much better fit the second or third time around, possibly because I’ve had that extra time to get them right.
Well, that’s it from me. What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever received about your writing? I’d love to hear it.