A couple of years ago, I wrote a post on my other blog titled Burn your form file. Judging from the comments, it seems this suggestion — an exercise in hyperbole — was controversial. Today I would add that my original advice was meant for litigators only, and particularly for writing that is (or should be) persuasive; I don’t know enough about non-litigation practices to know whether forms are beneficial in those practices.
I bring all this up because a few days ago, Roy Jacobsen posted an excellent bit of advice for writers who find forms useful: Put an expiration date on them. “When it reaches that date,” Roy advises, “stop using it. Take a long hard look at it and ask yourself if it needs cleaning up or revising. And maybe; you’ll decide that you should toss it in the dustbin and start fresh.”