trashcanAre you a creative hoarder?

At this year’s Writers’ Holiday, in Fishguard, novelist Marina Oliver gave an interesting talk about why writers shouldn’t throw anything away. She explained how she’s developed ideas for certain markets, only for them to disappear, for one reason or another, leaving her with a piece of writing she’d created but nowhere to place it. But then, several years later, often when she least expected it, an opportunity arose and she was able to dust it down, rejig it slightly, and sell her work.

On one occasions Marina was encouraged to write a 50,000-word novel for Mills & Boon, but the editor didn’t like one of her characters and the setting, and instead asked her to write something else (which was published). So Marina put the original book away. A few years later she heard that another publisher was looking for 70,000-word regency novels. Marina rummaged through her hoarded material and came across her old 50,000-word Mills and Boon manuscript. She changed the setting and period, added another sub-plot, and within months had a 70,000-word manuscript to offer. Much better to adapt something she’d already written than start again from scratch. It was published, and the publisher asked for more, which Marina went on to write. (She’s written over 60 novels.)

It reminded me of the time when I wrote a proposal for a non-fiction book about self-catering holidays. I submitted it to several publishers over the years, but couldn’t sell the idea. So it went onto the back burner. A few years later, I was looking through a self-catering agency brochure and noticed they’d used the same 3000-word introduction for the previous five years. I wondered if they fancied having it updated, so I got in touch. (Nothing ventured, nothing gained!). And what do you know – they said yes! So I dig out my original book proposal – tweaked the opening chapter, and bingo! A sale.

You never know when something you’ve created might come in useful. Plans don’t always pan out, so never throw away anything you create. Hoard everything you write. And I mean EVERYTHING.

Good luck.