One of my high school creative writing teachers told me to never throw away a poem. He said if you don’t like a piece, file it away and keep it for another day.
There’s a logical reason to do this: you’ll become a better writer one day and it is easier to revise than to re-create. Similarly, it may take years to finish a piece you start, but then comes the magical journey towards publication.
A simple Google search will prove that numerous authors will pause in the middle of writing a story. Just off the top of my head, I know George R Martin, Stephen King and Stephen Chbosky all took breaks before completing at least one of their novels.
However, there is another reason saving your work can be beneficial: additional content.
From a company’s point of view, publishers want to make money. They accept writers they think we return a profit and having a large volume of work helps ease that worry. You have to buy all three books in a trilogy to read the story. As a reader, I’m willing to drop $20 on a set of stories if the writing is good enough.
Additionally, saving your work means that when you do sell a novel, you’ll be able to share pieces someone may have passed over.
If a person is famous enough, their fans are going to want anything and everything they’ve done. A business savvy writer can use that loyal customer database to profit off the shitty high school poems they wrote – and it doesn’t have to be sleazy.
One of my favorite artists recently produced a book of her high school art with each painting having her own editorial comments on why the piece is crap. It’s hilarious and well worth the $45.
And lastly, you may not like a piece but if you keep it and read it months/years later, it might reawaken the feelings that originally inspired it, and from there you can create something better.
So trust me, don’t keep a circular file bin near your creative station – you might need that 3 line about Cheetos one day.