Monday, December 26, 2011

Why Returns are a Bad Idea

photo credit
Today is the day after Christmas. The day when hoards of people flock to the mall to return and exchange those fuzzy green sweaters with the giant initial on the front. Or other things they didn't like. But when it comes to writing, no matter how you feel about what spewed out, don't try to take it back!

We can learn from and use whatever we put down, no matter how bad it seems. Here are a few things we can do with those unused pages:

  1. Pluck the golden tidbit and insert it in your current work.
  2. Look back to see how far you've come!
  3. Have a laugh. 
  4. Maybe just maybe look at it with fresh eyes and see that it isn't so bad after all and that a little revision might work wonders.
So no returns! Every word written is a step closer to your goal. Now go enjoy those sales!!


  1. Hahah, Lisa, you are spot on. I have six manuscripts that *could* be returns, but I hang on to them. Not that they're any good, but that writing them all those years ago got me to where I am now.

    Nothing is wasted, it's all a learning process. Every now and then I think about going back to have a look . . . but I'm not ready for the cringe-a-thon!

    Huge seasons greetings to you and your mob and have a sensational New Year.

  2. The only returns I am making are: returning to the river to fly fish, and returning to my WIP. It's been slow, I've been stuck, and then a burst of ideas blows me back into a frenzy and something totally unexpected happens and I'm off in a new direction I hadn't even imagined.

    Oh...and I'm always going to return here for your great ideas and posts!

  3. I had the cringe-a-thon Ebony mentions a couple of years ago when I was cleaning out files on an old computer and found a first draft of my very first book. Uggh!!! Yet I learned so much from writing it, and every one since. You're so right, Lisa!

  4. Returns are always a bad idea. Especially in your writing. The learning process can be so helpful, even if you think what you are writing is crap. I've learned so much from my bad writing. Besides, who wants to deal with all those crowds on return day. :-)

  5. I keep saving drafts under new names so I don't throw anything out, but I haven't gone back to look. I'll have to do that for a laugh one day :)

  6. LOL! This is great! Yes, it's fun to look back and see how far we've come. If nothing else, it's great entertainment.

  7. Ebony - imagine if it wasn't a cringeathon at all but you said, "OMG why did I stop there?" Okay probably not, but you never know what gem awaits...

    Dean - you're a sweetheart! Catch some fish for me.

    Susan - At least we can say we've grown as writers!

    Gilliad- :D Thanks for the comment! And yes, dealing with those crowds is much worse than seeing cringe-worthy writing! LOL

    Jemi - You should!

    Julie - We should make each other read it aloud. Talk about embarrassment!

  8. ... though it would be nice if we could get some money back if we returned our un-used words! :)

  9. What a great comparison. I almost started clapping at your suggestion to look at a work to see if a little revision might help it. I truly believe that there are nuggets of gold in the files that hold old manuscripts.

  10. I love that. So very true! Every word is a step forward and we learn so much from each of them.

  11. Margo - I'd rather save mine in the bank! :D

    Cynthia - Thanks! Yes, there are nuggets of gold buried there if we look.

    Heather - Thanks! :D

  12. You are once again right! I'm off to check for nuggets, but first here's my Happy New Year wish to you!

  13. I've already written my "year in review" post, which included some of my writing. One of my most important lessons on the writing side of things is that, while it's never too late to hire a copy editor, it's better done sooner than later. Small investments can make a big difference, but even THAT was one to grow on! ;)