The first hour’s work of writing done, I throw away.
I don’t mean editing or reworking words results in the “throwing away” of my original work. Nor do I mean the pages (as first drafts are always done on paper at my desk, a practice from writer Sarah Wilson) are merely discarded for future references or citations. I literally throw first drafts of multiple thoughts into the trash, never to be used again.
My reasoning is threefold: First, I need the liberty to make huge literary blunders. When aware of the limited destination of work (the trash), limitless potential activates. Novel ideas and approaches can spur from this practice that allows for mistakes because of relieved social pressure.
Next, failure is a muscle often forgotten. A fledgling writer prepares for the eventual publishing process by a practice of discarding a thousand words or an hour of work each week to build an aegis of endurance for trial.
Finally, this reinforces why I write– to develop and share avant-garde insight.
Avant-garde (adj/n); people or works that are experimental, radical, or unorthodox with respect to art, culture, or society. It is frequently characterized by aesthetic innovation and initial unacceptability.
Adam Grant culminated research in his non-fiction work, Originals, on “how non-conformists move the world” and act within it to create massive change and success for their organizations. His thesis within the book is that “the hallmark of originality is rejecting the default and exploring whether a better option exists.”
“Originality is an act of creative destruction”Economist Joseph Schumpeter.
Adam Grant actually threw away 103,000 words (near 90%) of his first book, Give and Take. Most wouldn’t write the book anymore. Grant did. A true ‘Original’, Grant knew he had an idea within his 103,000 words of garbage that could become another book’s gold.
The saying is backwards. The two steps back are what propel us three steps forward. Don’t forget to take those steps in your work.
Adam Grant, Originals.