Not the trash kind—though that’s super important—but the writer kind of recycling. And I’m not talking about selling reprints of articles—though that’s certainly an important marketing strategy for your work—but some of the less obvious ways to r-e-c-y-c-l-e, recycle.
Whether you’re writing a novel, story, or article, there’s a good chance that you’ve done your research. Maybe you know everything there is to know about the Salem Witch trials because of that historical fiction you just finished. Or perhaps you’ve taught yourself semaphore, a system of sending messages with flags, for that non-fiction article you pitched to a children’s magazine. You’ve done all this work, and now it’s time for that research to work for you.
Sift through all those details for something intriguing; it may even be something you never used, or something unrelated to its original use. That information about the witch trials could very well turn into an article relating to geography, biology, or medicine. And all that research on semaphore could signal an interesting twist in a cozy mystery.
Divide and Recycle
And what about that novel or story that has too much information? It’s tempting, when you find fascinating facts, to cram it all into your writing. But too much information, even when it’s fascinating, can weigh down your words. The obvious solution is to pull out the extraneous bits. Those extra bits of information might be able to stand on their own as an article, and even better, you’ve already done the vetting.
The same goes for that fifth subplot in your novel that’s making your pacing plod along. An interesting yet unnecessary subplot might be a darn good short story that could sell on its own.
Recycle The Rejects
Just like I clean out my fridge every once in a while, it’s a good idea to go through your reject files. Because unlike my fridge rejects that absolutely must go straight to the trash, you might just find a treasure amongst your writing.
Now, it’s very possible that the treasure is not going to be staring back at you, all sparkling and bright. But what is possible is that you are going to skim an article or story and suddenly see, as bright as day, why it didn’t sell when you first sent it out in the world. Do your revisions and recycle it!
So there you have it, writers. R-E-C-Y-C-L-E, recycle! (Well, now I just have to share the Recycle song from Rocko’s Modern Life…
Cathy C. Hall is a kidlit author and humor writer. She's busy right now, checking her files for writing she can recycle. She'll let you know how that works out!