The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
If you have ever taken a creative writing class or been involved with the fiction writing community, you have heard the phrase, “kill your darlings,” often attributed to William Faulkner, most recently reiterated and popularized by Stephen King.
Originated by English writer Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, better known under the pseudonym “Q,” in a book called “On the Art of Writing,” he states:
“If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it — whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”
Essentially, these “darlings” refer to a specific scene or moments, plot points, conceptual elements, or character prose that we hold dearly to our hearts in our stories, like a lot. As much as we are proud and attached to these aspects in our writing, sometimes these details do not fit in our stories as they evolve in the writing process. Often, we find ourselves trying to force it to make it work. These darlings can be beautiful, they can be fun and clever, or simply just make for a good plot, but they are not the end-all-be-all, so why sacrifice so much trying to make it work? Just because we value it so much, and it looks pretty? No, we have to edit objectively to bring forth the best version of our story, which is often easier said than done.
I believe the same could be said about life. It is time to embrace the cliché that you are the writer of your own story because we are the writers of our own life stories. I am an author, and so are you. We may not be the best writers, but there is a story to be told. It may proceed us with future generations of children and grandchildren or embraced by history through our achievements.
Our darlings in life may be bad habits, toxic friendships, relationships, etc., which we view through rose-tinted glasses allowing us to avoid the red flags.
We begin to get comfortable in our routines, losing our ability to see things from a different perspective, and only make sense to us from our point of view. However, it won’t always be this way. We constantly change and require a bit of introspection to find our darlings in our routines. This may entail a bit of soul-searching in asking the right questions and having to answer them honestly.
It is important to note despite circumstances and factors that shape us into who we are, our lives are our creations. It is up to us to decide what’s truly important to our stories. Edit objectivity. Take those darlings to the back of the shed and kill them gracefully.
Use this link with listed questions to help jumpstart self-reflection and figure out your darlings!: https://positivepsychology.com/introspection-self-reflection/#:~:text=All%20you%20need%20to%20do,insightful%2C%20and%20motivating%20to%20you.