Kill your darlings

cartoon of coach and horse rider


In the world of writing, there is a quote that is often uttered – ‘kill your darlings’. It is actually a misquote (the original was murder your darlings) and a little bit harsh in its original intent, which was to prevent people publishing pompous bits of prose just because it was cleverly written.


However, its more contemporary attribution is useful, not just to writers but to every professional or business owner.


In writing, or any artistic or creative pursuit, it’s an easy application. Kill your darlings means going through your work and trimming the excess. The excess sentence or paragraph, the old articles and blogs that no longer speak to your mission, the painting or sculpture or photograph that no longer represents the story you want to tell, the video on a topic that no longer resonates, or that you’ve changed your mind about.


If you’re a retailer or a trainer or an event facility owner or a farrier or a biomechanics coach, you might very well be looking at the galloping housewife sideways about now and asking what in gods green earth she might think that has to do with your business. What about that line of clothing that you’re still carrying when you’re now the premier outlet for bespoke bridle work, the pony club eventers you’ve got on your books when all you really want to teach is adults who’ve lost their confidence, the training camps you’re hosting when you’ve got the best dressage competition facility in miles, the showjumpers you’re shoeing when your racing clients are screaming out for your lightweight farriery expertise, or the massage you’re still doing when your specialty is now video analysis for bigger groups.


Sometimes this is easier than others. Sometimes the work you need to cut is still making you money. Sometimes it is a favourite of your clients. Sometimes the customers are friends of yours.


Killing your darlings allows you to focus. Killing your darlings shows your customers what’s important to you. Killing your darlings allows you to spend time on what you want and what is going to lead your businesses forward.


Killing your darlings doesn’t mean the work was bad. It doesn’t mean you were wrong to do it in the first place, it doesn’t mean it has less value.


It just means that in order for you to progress, you need to clear the path.

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