When you begin a new piece of writing, be it article, short story, press release or a 100,000 word novel, you start off with ideas, insights, energy which can sustain you to the end. Sometimes the oomph fades part-way through. Sometimes you start with a dragging reluctance because you have a deadline, a target or open mic at your group tonight. Or maybe it’s something you’re soldiering on with, snatching bits of time in a busy day, and feeling uninspired.
You read back what you’ve written. It’s codswallop.
Collins English Dictionary gives a succinct definition:
Brit slang nonsense [of unknown origin]
According to Merriam Webstar online, synomyms of codswallop include: applesauce [slang], balderdash, baloney (also boloney), beans, bilge, blah (also blah-blah), blarney, blather, blatherskite, blither, bosh, bull [slang], bunk, bunkum (or buncombe), claptrap, nonsense [British], crapola [slang], crock, drivel, drool, fiddle, fiddle-faddle, fiddlesticks, flannel [British], flapdoodle, folderol (also falderal), folly, foolishness, fudge, garbage, guff, hogwash, hokeypokey, hokum, hoodoo, hooey, horsefeathers [slang], humbug, humbuggery, jazz, malarkey (also malarky), moonshine, muck, nerts [slang], nuts, piffle, poppycock, punk, rot, rubbish, senselessness, silliness, slush, stupidity, taradiddle (or tarradiddle), tommyrot, tosh, trash, trumpery, twaddle
But is it?
No, it’s a first draft, an outpouring full of your ideas, plot, passion. It’s meant to be raw and rough. That’s what editing is for – to polish, tighten and temper that first draft.
So next time you sigh dejectedly at what you’ve written, don’t feel badly. Swap to your slash and burn editor personality and polish it up to a sparkling gem.
You’ll find original codswallop has transmogrified into shining treasure.