Hanging baskets and the art of editing

Cascading surfiniaI keep a pair of scissors by my front door. Not because we live in a dodgy neighbourhood, but because they are the perfect tool when my writing has ground to a halt.

When I’ve reached the point where I’m groping for words or inspiration I walk downstairs, pick up the scissors and step out the front door. There I have two tubs and a hanging basket full off annuals, including beautiful cascades of surfinia.

I work round each tub quietly, mindfully, focussing all my attention on snipping off each dead or fading flower, giving the new blooms plenty of space to flourish. It reminds me of the editing and proof-reading process — trimming back extraneous words, chopping sub-clauses, giving phrases room to breathe. Does that sentence work? Could that be written more succinctly?

After a few minutes of mindful pruning my brain starts to unknot itself. The fog begins to lift. Words and phrases spark across my mind, and I realise it’s time to put the scissors down, close the door on the world and head back to my desk.

One thought on “Hanging baskets and the art of editing

  1. Oh yes to “giving phrases room to breathe” as you so beautifully express it! It’s a necessary part of the preparation for much that we write. Words seem to sing out differently when left to themselves for a while before being attended to again.
    And taking time to be deliberately mindful as we engage our brains in a fresh pursuit will provide space for inspiration to come. Lovely post. Thank you!


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