The clocks went forward last weekend.
So with the evening light stretching on just a little longer, last night seemed the perfect time to do a clear-out of our home office.
Sorting through a battered music case that I'd lumped with me all the way from NZ to the UK nearly two decades ago, I came across a collection of old poetry.
When I was a kid, my Mum taught Speech and Drama from our lounge most afternoons after school. Our bookshelves sagged with anthologies of NZ writers - Janet Frame, Fleur Adcock, Katherine Mansfield, Sam Hunt, Hone Tuwhare. And I grew up in a home that hummed and buzzed with literature "made living" by the spoken word.
I was around ten when I decided to write my first "proper" poem.
As a pre-teen my topics of choice were inevitably shaped by my naivete of the world around me - my favourite topics seemed to be ponies, rainbows and spiders webs.
Ten years on, my subject matter had moved on to the uncertainty, fragility and angst of failed romantic love.
Leafing through this disparate assortment of poems now it's hard not to feel embarrassed at the insular and naval-gazing nature of much of the subject matter.
Yet at the same time those clunky attempts at "grown-up" writing were hugely significant in helping me to grow as a writer.
Hardest of all back then was having the conviction to delete what didn't belong, no matter how much work might have gone into creating it.
These days that commitment to succinct, lean writing remains a work in progress - as Clifford Chi summed it up so well in his recent blog post for Hubspot.
As he so aptly puts it, "Abandoning beautiful writing is always hard, but if it doesn't provide value to your readers, let it go."
When you write an elegant paragraph or sentence, your inner author latches onto it. But even if it doesn’t fit within the scope of your content, you still might try to force it in there. You can get too attached to let it go. Paragraphs or sentences that don’t deepen your readers’ understanding of the topic, provide new information, or spark interest in the next section are just fluff. And all fluff does is muddle your writing. Instead of building around fluff, strip it away and start something new from scratch. Abandoning beautiful writing is always hard, but if it doesn’t provide value to your readers, let it go.