Are you renovating your writing?

Clouds move swiftly across a gorgeous blue sky on this winter morning as I sit at my computer. It’s a distraction from the noise going on all around me – contractors doing all manner of work in the process of making major renovations to my home. It’s the first time I’ve had work like this done, so I am new to the disruptions, changes, and general chaos of living out of boxes, and living with boxes. In fact, there are boxes everywhere: in the living room, in the bedrooms, even in the bathroom.


abandoned architecture broken building
Photo by Laurie Shaw on



It’s also a process that, for the moment, is painful (mostly because my ears are struggling to withstand the assault of all the banging, drilling, and hammering). But it’s useful to think about renovations because they are so similar to the editing and revision process of writing.

I’ve read somewhere that when editing, writers should “murder their darlings”. All the beautiful lines, elegant phrases we constructed, or that came to us as if through some magic genii are often the very ones that we have to sacrifice in order for our piece to make sense.

For instance, in order to prep our house for the renovations, we had to get rid of things we once valued. Some of those things were easy to dispose of, but some of them were a little more challenging, and required a bit of a KonMari approach.

Of course, with writing, we don’t really have to throw everything out. We can save those “darlings” for another piece, another time. But for the short term, we have to move them out of the way so that the writing can take the shape it needs to – so that the writing can breathe.

I know that the renovations in my home won’t last forever. Eventually the work will be completed, the contractors will leave, and the modifications will allow us to have greater flexibility in our lives. In other words, we’ll be able to live and breathe in our home, in a way we couldn’t before.

As I struggle to work on my writing during this renovation process, I think I’ll turn to editing some work that needs sharpening. And yes, I’m prepared to sacrifice some of my “darlings”. What will you renovate?