Reuse and Recycle Your Words

Reuse and Recycle Your Words

By Jennifer J. Chow, author of The 228 Legacy


Earth Day already passed in April, but do not be fooled. The upcoming month of September holds a slew of ecological holidays: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (September 16), Clean Up the World weekend (September 17-19), World Water Monitoring Day (September 18), and Zero Emissions Day (September 21). As writers, can we be as eco-friendly with our words? Yes. First, remember to save all your writing efforts. Now, here are five R’s on how to reuse and recycle your words:

  1. Reduce it: From a longer work, carve out a smaller story. The first novel manuscript I completed sucked. I’m glad I stuck it in a drawer. But not all of it bombed. In fact, there was a gleaming jewel hidden in the first chapter. I honed that minor segment and submitted it. That piece turned into “The Red Book,” my flash fiction piece published by Mouse Tales Press.
  2. Revive it: Sometimes an older manuscript retains potential. I recently pulled out a love story I had written years ago. It still seemed interesting, so I polished it up and modernized it. I’ve since submitted it to the Quirk Books’ “Looking for Love Contest.” Keep your fingers crossed!
  3. Reuse it: I notice that the same themes run through all of my work. I am constantly interested in how older generations interact with younger ones. I have certain fixations (e.g. Chinese food appears a lot in my stories) that appear over and over again. Instead of fighting my interests, I decide to revisit previous ideas and expand them, making the scenes crisper and more detailed. 
  4. Relive it: I kept old diary entries from my school days. Sometimes I read these journal entries for fun. It’s nice looking back in the past and getting into the mind of a school kid or an adolescent. It also helps me to find the right flavor when depicting younger characters.
  5. Recycle it: If all else fails, you can always use your written words as scratch paper. I never run out of scraps to write on anymore. Sheets also make great airplanes and even papier mâché creations!

So how do you reuse and recycle your writing? Share your tips with me!



5 comments for “Reuse and Recycle Your Words

  1. Veronica Roth
    August 29, 2013 at 3:55 am

    I love the relive it idea Jennifer. I made my children keep summer travel journals and now they love rereading them . I also like rereading my journals, blog posts, emails to Robert, etc. One thing I love to do is incorporate bits of writing as collaged background to art. I usually use my late father’s medical notes which he kept about his patients on yellowed papers. Sometimes he wrote with his fountain pen in ink which blurs and spreads beautifully. 🙂

  2. Carol Early Cooney
    August 29, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Great and timely ideas, Jennifer. Thanks!

  3. Jennifer-Chow
    August 29, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Thanks, guys! Veronica, the collage sounds beautiful, and you get to have a sense of history and family behind it.

  4. September 6, 2013 at 10:54 am

    Great ideas Jen! I’m currently editing my WIP, cutting out huge hunks but saving those passages that can work.

    • September 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm

      Glad you stopped by, Julia. Good luck with your WIP!

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