I discovered a surprising correlation between moving and writing as I packed up our house of 19 years and prepared for another move. I've moved a lot in my life (28 times at last count), but this time I really focused on weeding out as I packed. As I did, I was also working on a new book and I found myself comparing the two processes: writing and packing.
The key question I asked myself as I packed was: "do I want to unpack this when I get there? Is there a place for it?" I tried to imagine using that item in the new house. If I wasn't sure, I tossed it.
Okay. Confession. I kept a few things that have memories and will probably stay in a box for a long time, but for the most part, I winnowed it all down to only those things I thought I'd use.
I found that I did the same thing in the book I was writing. I tossed out scenes that just weren't quite right. They were fine as they were, but I didn't think they would move the book where I wanted it to go. I kept in a couple that I'm not sure will stay, but for the most part, I'm editing as I go and I know when I get to the end, I'll have only those scenes that I'm sure will work.
I normally don't edit a lot as I go. I usually slap down a first draft then go back and fix it up. But I think the job of packing made me stop and think as I write, just as I stopped and thought as I packed.
What has been interesting is to see are the consequences of my pack-and-toss method. We've been in the new house for two weeks and every box has at least been opened, if not unpacked. What was surprising?
We moved way too much stuff! Despite all of our efforts to weed out, it seemed like an unending stream of boxes came out of that moving van. And when I unpacked items into my new office, I found myself saying, "Why did I pack that? I could have tossed that and not missed it." I moved research books that I used for previous novels, I moved files and folders and ... stuff. I don't need it. I wanted to have it with me, though.
It made me realize that, a lot of the time, I'll write a scene in my current WIP because I want to write that scene. It may not be useful in that book, but I'm pretty sure I'll use it somewhere, sometime. So I'm not going to restrain myself anymore. I'll write the scene. And maybe when I get to the end and go back to "unpack"(edit) my book, I'll shake my head and say, "What the heck was I thinking?" Then I'll just move that scene to a new folder called "Orphan Scenes" and I'll keep for the next book, or the next one, or the next.
I'll find a place for it -- just like I've found a place for all the things I moved but probably 'shouldn't have.' I suspect at some point in the future, I'll be glad I kept it. And when I get to the next move, maybe by then I can let go of it.
Or move it ... we'll see!