Essential Writing Tool: DBNF

Here’s another writing tool I use all the time.  I borrowed this idea from my days as a time management consultant when I used the DBNF file for prospects who weren’t quite ready to buy.

The DBNF file is the perfect solution for those times when you need to kill your lil darlings (you know… those wonderful passages of prose that just don’t quite fit into the current piece of writing).

You know this is good material but it just doesn’t quite fit here.  Yet, you hate to throw out what it took you at least an hour to create.

Solution: create a DBNF file on your computer.

DBNF Stands for Dead But Not Forgotten.

DBNF is your good writing to use elsewhere.  Another time, another day, another blog post, in another story or vignette.

Cut and paste the ‘not working’ content from the current document.  Create a new Word (or text) document.  Save it with an appropriate file name.  Store all your DBNFs in a DBNF folder.  On the computer, or printed out in a manila folder.


Stuck for something to write?  Revisit your DBNF for a story starter or inspiration for a new piece of writing.

Essential Writing Tool: TK

I love discovering tools that make my life as a writer easier.  I tend to write on the fly and  have way more ideas than I can possibly capture on the page.

I’m not sure where I heard this one, but it’s a writing tool I use every day.

USE TK – Think of It As “To Come”

When you have a section you can’t write now, type TK into your draft. Later, use the Find command in your word processor program to search for TK.

Why TK?

TK is a letter combination not found often ( if ever?) in the English language.  So essentially, you’ve created a parking place for what’s “to come.”  (Okay, I admit, it’s fuzzy logic, but think TK phonetically = to come.)

This tool comes in very handy for those times when you don’t have the data you need.  Or you need to look up a quote to insert.  Or when the timing or inspiration is just not right to fill in the details.

Of course, before posting or submitting your prose to its final destination for publication, be sure to go through your entire document using the Find command to delete all the TKs.

3 Levels of Drafting A New Piece of Writing

j0439466Several years ago I attended a weekend spiritual retreat organized by the Omega Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Some of the notable headliners included Wayne Dyer, Joan Borysenko, James Van Praagh, Loretta Laroche, and  Dr. Brian Weiss.  I enjoyed the presentations by these wonderful teachers, but I’d come for one thing:  to sit at the feet of author Anne Lamott and lap up everything she had to say.

Anyone who has read her bestselling writing how-to book  Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life knows she has a wonderful way with metaphor, and a grand sense of humor.

She tickled her audience that day with her wry wit while teaching us about her recommended 3 stages for writing drafts:

1.  Start with a “down draft.”  Just get it all down.  Write, write, write.  Don’t worry where things might fit in.  Just get it all down before the muse runs away.  Think of the “down draft” as your parking place for ideas, experiences, and memories.

2.  Next, continue with “up drafts.”  Raise your  “down draft” from bare essentials to workable material.  That might mean adding new material, taking things out, moving elements around, shaping the piece of writing toward its publishable form.  Think of the “up drafts” as prettying things up.  This stage of drafting is truly where “writing” takes place and will mean you spend the bulk of your writing time at this stage.  Be okay with “up drafting” 5, 10, 20, even 40 times until you’ve refined your prose.

3.  Finally, attack your prose for the “dental draft”  as you polish and final hone.  During this stage, go deep inside your draft, review every word, every sentence, every paragraph for polishing.

If you’re not 100% certain of your doctoring (or dental) skills, now might be the time to have an experienced editor take a final look.  You’ll want your prose to be bright, shiny and smiling. 🙂