Helping Creative People Create

The Valuable Throw-Aways

by glen

throwing away valuable ideas is gooooood
Photo by jared

I can’t even begin to count how many posts I jot down that I never finish. Some sit and rot in an ideas file for the rest of their life, and that’s as far as they get. Others get as far as a few paragraphs, even up to a nearly finished post before it’s crumpled and thrown in the digital trash. I typically end up writing only about 20% of the posts I start.

Yet if I published every single idea I’ve had for an article, then there’s no way you’d still be reading my drivel. (Thanks for sticking around, by the way!) There would be much, much more unfocused, sporadic and unfinished content lying around this place. You’d spend your time trying not to step in the really stanky posts while trying to find the good ones. Yuck.

So, in order to separate the wheat from the chaff and the “men from the boys”, I throw away the stuff that just doesn’t cut the mustard. Of the stuff that I don’t throw away, 9 times out of the 10 I revise the pickles out of it. I cut, scratch, peel and scour the suckers until they’re at a point that I can call good. Then, and only then, I hit publish.

I think this is a natural thing for writers to do, and an important one at that. Ask any accomplished writer how many drafts they’ve tossed in the trash, and they’ll say the same thing. When you write, you already know that every sentence you type is going to be checked over, modified and possibly even thrown away. It’s just a part of the creative writing process.

Yet I’m surprised at how people don’t use this practice for other aspects of life. Old businesses never revised or even threw the plan away when it no longer worked. Or they finished that mediocre product because management wanted to see something. The art of cutting and running is a valuable one, and businesses should study it more.

Businesses don’t value failure like they should. They don’t understand that throwing away 50% of bad ideas is a good great thing. But you and I know it’s a vital part of creating. Why, this year alone I’ve had at least one “failed” product launch, and I fully expect to have more in the next year. In fact, I’m planning on it.

Every potential post that I throw away or every idea I chuck, I’ve learned a little something struggling with it. The same with every failure in business or life. It’s just a part of the process.

But when you find that one stellar idea out of 10, then you’ve got something special…

Liked the Post? Why Not Subscribe?

Get LifeDev delivered to your inbox as articles are published.

Leave a Comment