Saturday, April 25, 2009

Recycle, Reuse, Renew

I make dirt. But first I make dinner. Then soup. Then dirt.

How? First I freeze all my vegetable trims (a bit of lemon and lime rinds and fruit peelings can be tossed in as well) while I cook. When I have a bag full, I fill a big pot half full of water and light boil the trims for an hour or two, adding water as needed. Voila, nutritious, tasty broth. All that's left is to take the leftover vegetables out to the composter and I've got new dirt.

What does this have to do with writing? Simple. Reuse, recycle and then it's renewed. Stuck in your novel? Pull a character and write a short story. Short story is way too long--maybe it's a novel. Try using your characters/ideas/plots in a new genre. Write an article about what you learned. Need to research something for your novel? Research it for an article as well. How about a blog post?

It goes on and on. Painters have been doing this for a long time, scraping off parts of oils they didn't like and redoing. Or reusing the same canvas. Or cutting the canvas into sections (my dad did this and it worked).

So, recycle, reuse and find it renewed.

How do you do this in your creative endeavors?


Conda Douglas said...

Beth of Beth's Adventures left this comment:
I keep a document with any lines or paragraphs or phrases that I like, but cut from a chapter for whatever reason. Often I can recycle them in the same story, or in a new one. A word is a terrible thing to waste!

Now you've made ME hungry!! :-)
Which I deleted by accident! Sorry, Beth, I wanted everybody to see your comment!

The Muse said...

Hey Conda!

I do this a lot when I find myself going off the beaten path. It's so nice to have scheduled posts and the ability to save a post for later. I can take an idea and expand it for reuse later.

Take care!

Helen Ginger said...

I'd never thought of saving veggie trimmings to freeze and use in soups. We just take them straight out to the composting dirt.

But I do save trimmings from manuscripts. If I cut it, I keep a discard file. You never know....


Conda Douglas said...

Great idea, Muse! Then there's an entry if you don't have time to start from scratch.

Conda Douglas said...

But think of all those vitamins and minerals in the trimmings, all that good stuff, Helen, same is true of writing trims!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Like Helen, I usually just go straight to the compost pile. But it's a great idea.
As for my words, I save the cut ones, telling myself I'll reuse them sometime. I mostly think I do that as a salve to my sorrow when I'm killing my babies.

Conda Douglas said...

Or as Yeats always said, "No work is ever wasted," Kathy. I believe he said it often to comfort himself. I have a cut file as well, for the same reason.

Swubird said...


It's a nice twist on the theme of reduce, reuse and recycle. And it's one I use almost daily.

First I always over write. That's the only way I can get the story down. Then I REDUCE it to the approximate word level I am looking for. Then I comb through every word and line to see if there is something that needs to be replaced or deleted. At this point, I save snippets to REUSE later down the line. Finally, I RECYCLE old words, descriptions and phrases from my junk pile - old stuff that never made it into print. Hopefully, at that point I have come up with something I dare to print. Then, of course, I wait nervously for the feedback. Will it be a hit or a miss?

I love the way you always relate your messages with real life chores or something you are doing. Very helpful and easy to imagine.

Happy trails.

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Swu, for your kind words--sorry I'm late in responding to your comment!

And also, it's so useful to have too much rather than too little. Sort of like having too many ingredients for dinner, you can always cut, but if you're missing an ingredient, well...