I was just told apparently it’s weird to have a “dump document” open where you copy and paste the things you’ve decided to cut from your written draft (right now, a motion) *just in case you need it later.* I save it in the file b/c I can’t let go.
Anyone else do this?
I start almost every article with a “notes” document, which serves the same purpose. But when editing I often make a “leftovers” doc in case something that seemed expendable on first read makes more sense later.
I've never heard of this.
I save edited versions depending on the state of completion. The first writing is version 1-1, updated to 1-2 and so on, and significant changes (ordering of arguments, new supporting evidence, tracked changes from others) move it to 2-1, etc.
I sometimes have a separate file of what I want to say but isn’t on point to the specific facts of the case. I have to write them to get them out of my head to let me focus on the actual case. If they are “really good,” I save them for future cases that may or may not come.
I even go so far as to start labeling the cuts. “Burning dinner”, “Arguing with Xander ”, “The chase”. 🙄 That’s when I know my brain has wondered too far into organization. Gotta get my ass back into telling the story. 🤣
If or when I no longer care about the topic (rare), no longer have access to critical aspects of the research (although that’s a maybe), or technological advances force me to do so with some lower priority items.
Understatement: I’m not a fan of deleting.
I always ctrl-X ctrl-V my cut text into an email message addressed to myself. When I reach the end of that round of revisions, I hit send on the email. Preserves the cut text with a time stamp. For the next round of revisions, you can just reply to the email.
That's what I call mine too :-) Two docs titled 'Scratch,' one for work and one for myself, in Google Docs & Quip so I can reach them anywhere. Been doing it for at least 20 years, it used to just be a text file.
Not weird! I have an irrational fear that a partner might suggest adding the substance of what I’ve cut. What am I going to do then, rewrite it?! No, it’s safely tucked away. (This has never happened.)
I'm just sitting here in awe, wondering what life is like for people who have the audacity to *not* have a dump document? Just... living recklessly, all that confidence. Typing with actual swagger. So ballsy.
That happened to me once in the pre-computer days. Not pretty. “You wrote it just the way I told you to, but now that I see it on paper I think I like the way you wrote it the first time better. Hope you saved your draft.”
The hardest part is finding the actual issues. When you don’t know the law, you can’t spot the issues. So it just takes a lot of reading and briefing. 75 cases too in our “closed world.” Takes up a lot of time.
I've thought of doing this but what holds me back is that I fear that unless it's well organized and maintained it won't be any use later anyway, and I'm not putting in that kind of work organizing literal refuse.
Sounds like a lot of people keep it pretty organized. I can, depending on the length of the memo, but most of the time I don’t. To anyone else it’s a page of random cases and excerpts, but to me it’s a security blanket.
I often start a research process with a scratch document I use for research notes, and I'll usually save those at until argument. Not everything in there will wind up in the brief and it will usually just be an outline of points with some key case citations, nothing like a draft.
I note where it's from (chapter, or key event) and the date it was removed, and separate each chunk with a space, most recent first. Not otherwise organized, other than specific to the WIP. Pretty simple.
Ha that’s how I feel about a lot of what I save. I think to myself, “this isn’t super relevant but what if I reconsider my argument and it becomes relevant again? Do I want to find this/type this out again?”
I have a whole Note on My Yahoo! Notepad titled "Resources" and consisting mostly of things I want to have handy, or links to them, for use in online discussion. For graphics, I have a corresponding folder in my mail account.
Google Doc can be edited offline and automatically backed up when connected to the Internet. It has revision history too. This could help avoid manually emailing drafts to yourself.
// With that said, I have a dump area in my doc too. It's easier than looking though history.
I have three documents for every story. One for dump/notes/research, one for the current chapter I'm working on, and one for all of the already finished chapters (so I dont catch myself rereading and editing old chapters when the newest one needs my attention first).
Same here. Fortunately pixels don’t take up physical room, or I’d be in a world of hurt.
My cut-content files are usually called something like “extrastuff.” Not particularly creative but it does the job, ha.
I do this, sometimes in a document and sometimes in an email to myself that I save to the file. I don’t have a fancy name for mine, but I’m tempted to steal @AppellateGuru’s “cutting room floor” title.
The “cutting room floor” file is clutch. I’ve also called it the “bone yard” because it’s where some undeveloped arguments go to rest (but may possibly be resurrected again, such as on reply). IMO having these discard files makes total sense.
yes definitely!! and/or every time i sit down to work in whatever it is i “save as” and retitle it with the date, so i end up with no less than like nine versions of it in various stages that Anxiety Brain refuses to let me delete “because i might need it later!”
I have a line in the document. Everything above the line is edited into readability. Everything below is a snippet that isn't yet or was cut earlier. As I write, the snippets slowly congeal into new edited paragraphs, or stay in purgatory.
This is when I usually just create a new version of the brief for the shortened version (thankfully I’ve always worked places with doc management software so I don’t have to have new file names for all the versions).
I’ve always created a “net draft” to house all possible materials, links, quotes, devil’s advocate ramblings, etc. When I’m ready to sculpt/whittle down, I use a *copy of that broad net thrown* that’s a composite of my own research & thought processes. Very useful later. Save it.
I do it and I save it for just about every substantive document I work on. Super helpful, especially for piecing together trends in case law/making use of quotes that pop out but it isn’t instantly obvious where it would fit. Freaks out people in Sharepoint documents
Yes. Sometime I remember a bit of info but not what source I got it from. For that reason, I keep interesting tidbits with sources and links, knowing I can find them later in a search. An advantage of electronic documents.
I just save old drafts. But yeah, you never know when that obscure point will suddenly tie everything together (not). Also, I think this is a habit of people who write slowly--fluid writers know they can just rewrite.
Oh, I absolutely do this. It makes it so much easy to cut things if I know I can access them later should I change my mind. I rarely do, but still. And sometimes a darling or two makes its home in another piece of writing.
Yes! I’m very picky about the order I present information in and the general flow of writing so I tend to move things around a lot. Plus, I feel like I put in WORK writing that content and while it didn’t work in a certain spot, it might come in handy elsewhere!
If you craft text in Google docs, all edits are saved in a version history, which is less frustrating than having to move between documents and remember where cut text was initially. Trust me, I've been there.
I routinely do this. It makes it so much easier to cut.
Once I cut an section X to reach arbitrary word count, put it in dump file, expecting referees to want this for R&R. Referees said, "author should do X," so I did!
Sent to editor, "sorry about word count." MS accepted.
If that helps you mentally to get past deleting it, then do it! There is a saying amongst writers that you need to be prepared to “kill your darlings.” We often get attached to things we write, but also need to be prepared to “kill” them if it makes the work better/more effective
I do this and nobody ever taught me, I just started doing it, perhaps b/c I always tend to overwrite a lot and I am therefore forced to cut huge sections and it doesn't make any sense to completely junk writing that has citations that can represent hours of work.
Yes, mine starts as bits and pieces at the end of the document under the heading “cut(s)”, then, when the writing it ready for the next step (usually review of some kind), it gets moved to a new document called “[original file] cuts”.
OMG I DO THIS!! And I even call it “[name of file I’m working on] dump”! I thought I was the only weirdo who does stuff like this. Clearly, my reluctance to delete anything extends even to word documents.
I invented this sometime circa 2005, when our document-management practices were just a touch above "save to desktop." Proud that it's still a (negative) productivity tool today! #MyNewMotto: Inventing new ways to #entomb wasted words in #carbonite, since 2005.
I use the dated format a lot of other people have noted but I’ll start creating a dump doc now. I’m finding it difficult to find stuff back in time cos I don’t know in exactly which day/date what I need is in. This way, I know what I need it’s in that one doc.
When I get to the point of cutting something I may want later, I save, the save again, but as new version, then make the big edit... knowing I can go back and find my earlier prose in a prior version. A modern doc mgt system of course makes this easier ...
Yes. Why would someone suggest that’s weird. In the before times, we used to write ideas on index cards keep them for later. Cut and paste is literally built on that idea. How is time passing this fast?!
I have never done this in 17 years of practice. I have used track changes, which literally tracks every change, included deleted text (as strike through) and allows you to reinsert deleted text. I’ve also just saved versions of documents (“factumv1” vs “factumv2”)
While this works in some circumstances, you can only grep the current view. You can persuade software engineer tools (such as git) to give you running deltas, but it's a pain.
Dump docs can be easily searched and bulk indexed.
Absolutely necessary due to the 180 and 360 degree digressions, and characters dropped and scene cuts, not to mention the extra depth demanded during the editorial process and 897 other changes endured during the seven to twelve years of finishing a book!
I call it the “clipboard” and I have one for each writing project. I usually end up returning to it multiple times to move things around and cut and paste, and sometimes I pull from them for new pieces.
I don't have a "dump document" but I go crazy with version controls. Whenever I think I have an updated version of a document, I save it as a new file and then run redlines against the previous. I keep both "clean" and "redline" copies :P
Yes, it's called 'cut bits'. I always have one and encourage PhD students to do this too as it helps you to let go of things that don't belong in the main argument but that you love with all your heart.
Not weird at all. My MA tutus calls it ‘keeping the edits from the cutting room floor’. Makes it easier to cut things out (and put them back if you change your mind) and comes in handy for other writing too.
I do this! I tell my students to do it. The emotional burden of throwing away hard work & relevant research is heavy, and when time is short this is a great hack! Do you ever use it again? I rarely do.
I like the idea. I had a discussion graveyard once, at the end of a draft, of all the ideas I had cut from the discussion from previous versions. Useful to get input from co-authors on whether an idea should have been cut or not. And yes, easier to let go that way.
I’m just a 2L, but I do this. We are working on our moot court appeal briefs. I have ~ 10 windows open. My “dump” doc, my outline, my drafts, my cases,etc. ... I feel a little better knowing others do it too
Yes! It was a tip that @ciara_hackett gave me while doing my PhD and it's the best idea ever. It makes revisions etc so much easier and work is sitting there for shorter media pieces (if I ever get around to that). Also helpful for a book proposal.
My dump file is always called "Bits" and I oftem retrieve stuff from it or use it for other projects. Somehow I accidentally deleted a large section from my last one and lost some vital reference material that I'll never be able to find again. Still bummed out about that.
Do it too, as a PhD student I often reused some parts, even in my final manuscript. I'll keep doing it, it takes away the frustration of deleting. something. for. ever. and allows you to write freely without the urge to do it right the 1st time. Great self brainstorming.
Mine are called “To Reopen” with the date and can cover more than one project.
They also include URLs to material I didn’t use but that might be useful in the future.
How carefully the items are labeled is a good indicator of how stressed and how rushed I am.
Many books have been written/edited from “dump” documents, folders & boxes, particularly after an author dies. I have a couple of articles put together from materials that were not a good fit for the original article, but were perfectly fine on their own.
It’s weird not to do this IMO 😂 Makes it much easier to dump stuff that’s not working because you’ve got it somewhere. 95% of the time I don’t go back but occasionally there’s a thread of an idea I’m glad to have!
I’ve got a ton of email drafts that I’ve even titled for this very purpose.
This dumping ground has come in very handy over the years! I’ve been able to pull documents re any number of subjects together very quickly based on the cast-offs from previous ones.
Not only do I do it, I advise my students to do it, too.
It doesn’t matter if you never go back to the bits; it’s about convincing your brain that it’s ok to cut from your paper bc that idea or sentence isn’t disappearing forever; it just doesn’t belong in THIS paper!
Of course - I have loads of text files on the go in notepad++ which I use for snippets of thought, drafted paragraphs, a to-do list, things to investigate later on the web, ideas for quiz questions and all sorts of other junk...!
For you and I, sure. For most people, not really. This is one reason Google Docs is so successful; it increases access to versioning and document "history" for people who otherwise would have none.
Git/job it does, would catalyze humanity. Just imagine impact in academia or law.
I use git but I do also have a scratch file, for those bits that you know fit in somewhere and you might just need to put back. It’s different because it sits open for me to see. Editing is non-linear.
I do this a bunch when I am making presentations, too. Alot of things that are *good* ideas for a slide, but just don't fit exactly what I am trying to do. Will get 75% done, realize that this isn't the right frame for the audience. Save the slide, dump it to a WiP
Me: Let's compromise. We'll put it in the "Extra Writing" document, then we'll come back and reevaluate later.
My perfectionism: Okay. But promise we'll actually do that.
Me: I swear it.
(I have never ever added something back into final writing from the Extra Writing doc. 🤫)
Unless accounting spreadsheet practice has moved on, I used to do it clearing reconciled items from from accounts reconciliations. Provides an audit trail of what amounts were ticked off to what. Good practice.
I find it really useful -a sort of bank of ideas.
And some of those files are coming up to their 21st year. Mind you, I only recently got rid of the peat samples from my PhD - finished in 2003 and moved 4 times across the UK🙃
Yes, I do this. When I code, I mostly use WebStorm and PyCharm. These have a built-in scratch folder where I can keep snippets of code I write that I may only use later on. So, no, it's not weird. Even us programmers do it! 😀
I used to do this, but there are clipboard caching tools that make this so much faster and easier now.
I couldn't live on Windows withing CLCL (nakka.com/soft/clcl/inde…), havent found one I like on Linux yet but there's a few options: tecmint.com/best-clipboard…
I do that too, BUT if you use something like Google Docs where there is built-in document versioning... the history of all past edits remains available still. So it can make it easier to clean up a document knowing you can go back if needed.
Hoards of cuts. Think of how brutal it would be to just throw them away. And if you save them, then the document you cut them out of gets a lot tighter and smoother, because you do not try to fit all that extraneous treasure (i.e., distractions) into it.
I absolutely do this, but only for major pieces of writing.
I do a lot of research-oriented writing, so I always want to save those golden data discoveries even if they don’t fit the topic or tone of the current piece.
I'm starting writing an new article right now and I just created my dump file. Experience has taught me too many times that if I cut something out, I later realize it should fit my argument, and I can spends hours searching for the relevant quote again...
Psst in which case if you ever delete, you are bound to need it the next day. At least that’s what happened when I quietly ‘lost’ some of the 25+ years of accumulated ‘just in case’ DIY bits & pieces...
I do this for fiction, because my characters keep getting minds of their own and refusing to go where I want them to. Might as well save the half-written scenes and hope they'll obey me eventually. Never thought of doing it for academic stuff though...
I do this 100% of the time when I’m writing or editing. AND I have re-used some of that cut out content in other works later, completely justifying the practice. It also makes it less daunting to cut out entire sections when needed.
I do it constantly - I have multiple versions of the same document, and I recommend all my students do the same. It helps, psychologically, to get you past the block of knowing a section is good but still needs to be cut. You tell yourself that you'll use it some other time!
This would be my 'compost pile' where ideas might deconstruct to it's simplest concepts and nourish another idea in different conditions.
My best professional yields come from the compost.
Any other #gardeners out there?
I am happy to report that I moved recently and I made it an absolute law, not to have a junk drawer. It once cost me a warrant for my arrest, and a $650 fine, for a fix it ticket that I decided to fight, but failed to show up because the ticket got lost in the junk drawer 🤦🏻♀️😫
Mine is called "junkyard" when I'm deep in editing/slicing/dicing mode. I'm great with a quick paragraph, but not always certain the moment I write it where it really belongs, so there's a lot of moving around. Keeping a document like this is a win.
You are not alone. The post it app on osx is like a storage for thoughts. I have an idea, put it in ”storage” to be able to think about other things. Perhaps it’s more copy/paste for thoughts..? Well, something like that. :)
Totally normal. Have them all over my codebases for the same reason. Although I take flak for trying to check them into repositories by people who can apparently remember git hashes of their changes without any cognitive pain...
I’ve never thought of doing this before, but this is brilliant. I usually just keep stuff I cut at the bottom of a doc, but that does mess up the word count and eventually I have to delete it. Your system is much better.
I do this, and not just to placehold cut stuff. If I'm stuck on wording or trying to reorganize, I use the 'dump document' as a sort of clean space to do that. When I like it again, I move it back to the draft.
I do this, and recommend it to all of my students. In most cases, I never reuse the disposed fragments, but it helps developing a more coherent piece of work by reducing the mental pain of deleting text and ideas.
Cleanse, what you need to hold is programmed into you, unless it's research or evidence that comes under the ethos historical documentation dump it, I used to be like this but realised because my knowledge continually expanded looking at old data was like reading child's books🌸
I move cut sections to the top of the document that I am working on and only when I think that I am finished with the document, do I delete the stuff at the top. I may start moving the stuff to a dedicated "dump document" instead of deleting from now.
It's a good idea and I've literally just done it! You might want to expand the material you've cut from, turning article into chapter, or create a new article on a related topic using material that didn't quite fit. Or you might decide to restore it as it works better
Sure, there are many solutions. But with a VCS you have all old and new pieces of text stored automatically in a timeline. You can even give informative names to key versions, so it's easy to find specific pieces. Then, you can copy and paste them between versions very easily.
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If I don't type in an editor where I can comment/hide lines, I usually keep all this dump at the end of the document. When I'm done I erase it, and usually I realize 2 days after that I needed something.
Oh yeah! 😂 In the last year or so I’ve finally started actually utilizing the “Reading List” feature on my Apple devices, and that space has just become a hoard for my future self to sort through for the diss 😅
Kinda. I use Git for pretty much everything these days so I either comment stuff out (I use markdown) or just cut it secure in the knowledge that I can go back and retrieve it from my version control system if I need to.
Yes, especially with phrases when writing music. Ideas that help shape the track but ultimately hinder it get dumped to a mute channel in case there's interesting things in there that I might want to reincorporate later.
I absolutely do this! I’m not wasting time rewriting something I’ve already written. Ultimately I might not need it in this document but it could be relevant elsewhere. So provided there no sensitive info I’ll save it.
Did it for every chapter of my dissertation. The dump files were all longer than the final chapters. And there were a few times when some material from those dump files migrated back into the chapters.
I don’t but what a brilliant idea! I sometimes have a hard time editing-it’s difficult to let go of something you feel is written rwell but may not be 100% necessary for that particular document. Have this sort of file would make me a better editor I think! #StealingIt
That's why I liked working with latex, because you can just toggle * the text you don't need on or off. Back in Word, I have a section after the references that is called 'old' where I dump the texts I might need later.
Not sure if it’s still going but @air_story is perfect for you. I do this too. Nothing more frustrating than not being able to remember ‘the line’ when it becomes relevant again. (Like Paul in Mad Men if you remember that scene!)
And now that I've realised I am familiar with some of your work (sorry, name recognition is NOT one of my skills), I am always going to think we are the Fellowship of the Slush when I see any again, lol! 😂
Absolutely. Graveyard, parking lot, lots of names for it. I also give myself word cut goals—if I add 3k but words to that doc, I’ve achieved it, etc. And often, paragraphs move back into my text later.
I'm just reading your bio. I definitely did this when I was writing briefs; I had to reuse things or rescue stuff I'd cut all the time. I only had to recreate something from scratch one time before I started keeping a Scratch Paper document.
I totally do that and also always have/had cheapo little bound notebooks for scribbling notes on. Think it's a little surprising that nothing app, e-notepad, yada yada across all devices etc has ever been able to replace a little physical notebook for me.
A dump folder and a dump document, version number all my saves. Just in case. Learnt the hard way when my supervisor corrected his corrections in my thesis and went back to something almost identical to original. It's perfectly normal.