Confessions of a Compulsive ‘Word Hoarder’
In college I had this problem whenever I went to write a paper.
The professors would always assign some arbitrary length—”10 pages, double spaced.”
Invariably I’d be working on my draft, and around 8 pages in I’d slam into a wall.
I’d covered all my points, said everything I wanted to say.
Where on earth was I going to dig up another 2 pages?
My problem (which wasn’t a problem at all, really) is that I wrote “tight.”
Not a lot of excess words.
I tended to convey in a paragraph what other students would drag out for a full page.
And I’d avoid “rabbit trailing” onto ideas that were only tangentially related to the main point of my paper.
Both good things.
Over the years though I developed a real fear of “not having enough to say.”
This fear rears it’s ugly head in a clingy attachment to words, just because I’ve already typed them on the page.
When I’m writing often I don’t want to delete ANYTHING.
What if I need that later?
This is a BAD place to be when you’re writing anything—ESPECIALLY emails and sales copy.
You want your writing to have clarity, focus and flow.
And that only comes through ruthlessly eliminating stray words and side trips.
The way that I pacify my inner “word hoarder” while also streamlining my copy is to keep a “cuts” file.
Here’s how it works:
Lately I’m working on a long-form landing page for an Amazon book launch.
I have 3-4 different headlines written, and I’ll probably create at least a few more.
My main document is starting to get really messy—to the point where it’s hard to see what I’m even working on.
So I keep a second document that I might call “Book Launch Page – Cuts.”
Instead of deleting headline ideas, blocks of text, juicy phrases I’m attached to…
I just cut/paste them into this cuts doc.
That way I’m not “losing” any of my hard work, and my inner hoarder can shut up and stop shrieking so I can keep moving.
Of course the dirty little secret is I’ll never look at this document again.
It’s kinda like putting stuff you want to get rid of in a box, taping the lid shut, waiting six months so you forget what’s in it—and then pitching the whole thing in the dumpster.
That’s the strategy here.
And it works just fine for me.
Just please—don’t tell my inner word hoarder, K?