Kill your darlings



We writers know what it means to kill our darlings. No, I’m not talking about doing something dastardly to your loved ones because they make it impossible for you to concentrate (although at times, that idea has merit). I’m talking about cutting copy. Gouging it. Gutting it to get to the good stuff.

As a junior copywriter, it all looked good to me.

When I was a junior copywriter, editing was an almost impossible task. I couldn’t even determine where my good copy was. To me, it was all good copy. Heaven forbid I should cut or edit.

Over time, however, I learned not only to weed out the bad from the good from the great, I came to expect it.

Now, I fully anticipate writing dozens of headlines. Or cutting the top two paragraphs of a sales letter to get to the better intro. I  look forward to the surgery, because it means I’m getting to the heart of the matter. The real meat.

Copywriters learn to cut  the things they love most. Try it.

What’s this mean for you? It’s a way out.

If you find yourself staring at the screen and you can’t seem to make a move, try this on for size. Hit the “Save As” button, create a new file and cut your favorite parts. Kill your darlings. Butcher them. For good as they may be, they may be the very things holding you back.

What have you got to lose? You’ve saved your original file. No harm done. And you may find you’ve created something even better.