“Murder Your Darlings”

January 2013

Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – wholeheartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.
 — Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.

In writing, your darlings are disruptive. The very thing that makes them darlings breaks the flow for the reader. Delete them.

In programming, your favourite bits of code are often too clever for their own good. Delete them, and replace them with more straightforward pieces.

In science, you should confirm a hypothesis (or not) by trying to disprove it, rather than prove it. (The same should hold for police work.)

Don't protect your work from critique. Attack it. Mercilessly. (This will be hard on your ego. Don't let that stop you.)

If you meet the Buddha, kill him.
 — Zen Master Linji

Jody commented:

Flip yeah! (Inflection note: enthused and serious.)