Idea capture is not writing, but it IS the first step to writing. A coaching client of mine, in response to an email I sent to her offering suggestions on a chapter, decided “you are right. I am throwing out most of Chapter 2.”

I was confused. I didn’t think I said she should.

She had submitted a chapter to me that had some issues — with pacing, clarity, information dumping — so I made quite a few notes and suggested she take another look, never thinking she’d decide to start again.

Of course, that is her choice, and she is very brave to do so. Starting over — whether it’s a chapter, several chapters or an entire book — is always a disheartening prospect, whether you are a new or a seasoned writer. The thought of killing those darlings, crafted with such care over hours, days, weeks or years, can be painful. But sometimes it’s necessary.

But not always. As I wrote to my client regarding her decision to scrap the chapter: “That’s totally up to you. There’s a lot of good stuff throughout the chapter that may just have to be fine-tuned. I think what you say…is true: ‘Idea capture is not writing.’ But it IS the first step to writing.”

Remember, there are times when you don’t need to throw out the baby with the bathwater when a simple siphoning will do.

I told as much to my client. Just so she knows. In the end, the decision will be hers.