“Kill Your Darlings”

The phrase, “Kill Your Darlings” comes from my Screen Writing Teacher Michael Catlin. In essence, what he’s referring to is that part of the writing process where one begins to do the necessary work of rewriting and revision.

In this stage, what often happens is that you as the steward of a story (i.e. the author) begin to find that in order to create the space for the story that is unfolding to truly unfold, you must make necessary cuts. You must let go of some beautiful passages, stunning images, witty remarks, underlying esoteric meanings, or lovable characters in order for the whole story to find a sense of cohesion and coherency. You must, in essence, “Kill your darlings” – i.e. those parts of your writing that you hold with a sense of preciousness.

And I would add, “keep letting go.”

I have been thinking about this statement as of late, because I feel that it makes a great metaphor for the challenge of living life. Specifically, there are times, when it seems that Life is asking all of us to let go in some way – whether it is physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, financially, and/or spiritually. In those instances, it can feel as though the very thing that we need to let go of, is the very thing that we are most proud of, attached to, and/or inspired by. AND yet in order for Life to continue for our stories to unfold, both on an individual level as well as a Universal level, we must let go. We must relinquish our attachments to specific people or relationships, let go of a given job or occupation, and/or surrender a certain self identity, state of being, or sense of self in order to find a greater sense of cohesion and coherency. We must kill some of our own darlings in order to move forward with the next stage of our individual and collective narrative.

As I believe I am not the only one in the process of writing, re-writing, and revising my individual and collective Life, I wanted to share some of the following contemplation points.

  • What things is Life asking you to re-exam at this moment? That is, where in your own life are you in the process of revision?
  • What thoughts, feelings, opinions, or ways of being might need to be relinquished in order for a new You to take form? That is, what darlings might need to be edited out in order for the greater story of your life to unfold?
  • What is necessary for you to being to trust that you can let go of these things?
  • How can you begin to cultivate more trust that all those beautiful moments served their purpose and that many more brilliant, positive, amazing, and tender moments, relationships, jobs, etc. await you in the future – if only you allow yourself to let go of those you’ve been clinging to?

It is my hope that these words will serve to support you in your process of letting go of some of the precious, tender, and beautiful aspects of your own life and narrative that may not be serving the greater story that is unfolding.