As a writer, I’m sure you’ve heard this before. We love killing things and people, (metaphorically of course) so why is it so hard for us to “kill our darlings?”
Easy – We are writers, which means we are lovers. We get attached easily, especially to the most beautiful string of words we think we’ve ever written in our lives. Are you like me? Do you tend to somehow insert real-life scenarios, thoughts, people, feelings, and whatnot into your writing, even if it’s not labeled nonfiction?
You may not, and that makes you a much better writer than me because that’s the exact issue about killing your darlings. It feels good to write out things. You want to share your passions with people who can relate, but that’s not where the best writing comes from, and we all know that.
When writing, it’s easy to get swept up in the process of it and forget why you’re writing. As much as we wish it were true, writing is not for us. Writing is for your readers. I struggle with this constantly. It’s important to remember that the title, “writer” also goes along with “entertainer.”
You are not the only person who is going to read your writing so stop writing it for yourself. Who or what are the darlings that you need to kill? Is it a long lost family member? Maybe a shitty ex-lover who will never read or ever read your writing anyways? Stop writing for them.
This is not to say, don’t use them as inspiration. Absolutely use people. We do it all the time. But don’t pour your heart out in a poem or memoir saying all the things you wish you could say to them.
Instead, maybe try writing a fiction piece about how you hired an evil spirit to haunt them and write from the perspective of the spirit, or even the person being haunted. Try writing outside your own perspective and see what happens.
Kill. Your. Darlings.