Creativity · Writing

A Writer’s Junk Drawer

Everyone has a junk drawer in their house. It’s that spot in the kitchen or laundry room where you toss all those bits and pieces: rubber bands, twist ties, old keys, found buttons, maybe even some loose change. It’s a collection of things you don’t know what to do with but you don’t want to throw them away in case you need them later.

I think writers have junk drawers, too. Probably a folder on your laptop or in your filing cabinet where you toss those incomplete drafts and half-formed ideas. Maybe you had an idea you didn’t know what to do with so you scribbled down a few lines and filed it away. Or maybe you started a draft with the best intentions of writing a damn-fine story, but somewhere along the way you lost momentum or the story hit a roadblock. It happens to the best of us.

I like my writing junk drawer. It’s like going into your attic and rediscovering things you’d forgotten about. All those bit and pieces I wrote and set aside for another day. Some I remember once I begin reading them, but others are little hidden treasures, like finding a coffee can full of cash when you’re digging in the garden. Well, maybe not THAT good, but close.

I read somewhere that writers only complete about seventy percent of the stories they start writing. I question that assessment. While I do have an abundance of scraps, drafts, and one-line ideas, I wouldn’t say I’ve abandon them. I revisit that junk drawer every once in a while and I always find something to work on, something to polish up and show to the world. I may read through five, ten, maybe twenty files, but then I’ll happen upon some tidbit that hits the right button. You know what I mean? That feeling you get in your head and your gut that this is something you can build on. This is a story that needs to be told, and it’s all there in your head. I love that feeling.

And I continue to add to my junk drawer. I keep a spiral notebook and a handful of pens in my backpack so I can always jot down some idea or fragment that pops into my head. When I get home I’ll type it up and file it away in that file folder on my hard drive so I can rediscover it later. At some point it may become unmanageable because for every story I pull out of there, I probably add ten. Of course, it could be argued that I simply need to write more to balance things. I guess I should work on that…


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