Monday, June 6, 2016

June Letter from the Editor

Invariably when I have the chance to catch up with writer friends, the first question out of my mouth is, “Are you writing?” Sometimes I receive the gung-ho response of, “5,000 words a day.” Oftentimes their response is tepid. Or, as in last week, I received the worst response ever. “I have been, but the scene I wrote today was so bad, it was nothing but filler, so I deleted it.”

Allow me to pause while I bang my head on my desk.

When it comes to writing, I am not a fan of rules. In my subjective opinion, writers should learn the rules, consider the myriad opinions hoisted upon us, then decide when to break them. Rules should be looked at as tools.

However, if I was a literary god, the first thing I would do would be to supply writers with security blankets. Then I would issue this decree. Never, ever delete something because you think that it’s crap. 

I can write something in the evening, go to bed thinking it’s Pulitzer Prize-winning material, and the next morning question my sanity for believing it was worthwhile material. When it comes to my writing, I run hot, cold, hot, cold, (lukewarm doesn't exist for me.)

But the one thing I never do is delete anything. I keep a scrap file on every book I’m writing. Yes, the scrap file is equivalent to the size of War and Peace. Yes, I have gone back and used pages from my scrap file. I could do that, Ladies and Gentlemen, because I've learned it's not always trash. 

Writers are a lot of things, but a good judge of their own writing, is not one of them.

That’s why organizations like Pikes Peak Writers are invaluable. It’s June, folks, we’re six months into the year. We hope you're meeting your goals. If you haven’t had a chance to read Deb McLeod’s post, Know How You Tick as a Writer, check it out. This month J.T. Evans is back with Buzz Words. R.T. Lawton tells us why he prefers short stories over novels (hint: he's written a few). Karen Albright Lin explains High Concept. Jason P. Henry claims critique groups are like diamond miners. Finally, we have a new writing advice column called, Dear Annie. 

I’m not a literary god so I can't  order you to do anything. But I do urge you never to delete pages. Instead, talk to a trusted beta reader or a critique partner. Also, tune in often to Writing from the Peak. Who knows, the advice you receive here might be better than a security blanket. 

Have a fabulous June. 

About the author: Donnell Ann Bell is the managing editor for Writing from the Peak, the coordinator for the monthly Open Critique held on the first Wednesday of every month, and one of Pikes Peak Writer's board members at largeShe is a best selling romantic suspense and mystery author. To learn more about her books, find her at


  1. So glad you agree. I have a file of deleted scenes, too! Though I have to say, I have never retrieved them in total. I've used certain facts. But it's nice to know they are still there...

  2. I didn't realize other writers did that too! I've been hanging on to deleted things for so long some of it has birthed a race of stray words.

  3. I remember getting the blue screen of death at one point when I lost some pages I was really happy with. I knew then to back up back up. I have a friend, Sylvia Rochester, who says, "The first stroke is the freshest." She's a painter and a writer. I know writers who write something, then proceed to edit the life out of it. We truly do need security blankets :)


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