I have my own junkyard.
It lives on my computer. It’s where I dump piles of sentences, phrases, ideas that I love but aren’t driving the writing forward.
So, I toss them in the junkyard. Maybe they’ll have a second life, I think, when I look at them with different eyes. And sometimes they do.
The real benefit of the junkyard, though, is that it enables me to carve out what’s not working without feeling like it was wasted effort.
Let’s say I come up with a rare beauty of a sentence. It’s got power, rhythm, style, it would turn heads on the street. But despite its good looks and charm, it just doesn’t add to the energy and life of the piece.
If I didn’t have a junkyard, I’d likely start pinching and squeezing the writing to accommodate this prodigy sentence.
But with the junkyard, I can snip it right out and comfort myself with the idea that I might use it again later.
Then, when my mind is dry as a desert and no ideas are coming, I can go to the junkyard and pick stuff up, turn it around in my mind, see what sticks. And sometimes something does.
So if I were to advise my younger self on helpful artistic tools to use, I’d say, Make yourself a creative junkyard. Dump excess words in. Pluck repurposed ideas out. And remember: There’s no guarantee the work will be good; but this may help you get closer to the energy and life of the art.