Today I went back and had a look at my first writing tip on this blog. Ouch! Re-reading something you wrote back then can be painful. This is true of both fiction and non-fiction. Could any of us read one of our old school essays without wincing?
What should you do with your dusty old writings? There are a number of tempting options: burn it, revise it, ignore it.
Binning your old work
You may feel so embarrassed about your old work that you want to destroy it, hide it from prying eyes forever. This would be a loss to you and any fans you accumulate along the way.
Wouldn’t you like to be able to go back and have a look at J K Rowling’s first school essay for English Literature? It would probably look something like this: “To conclude, War and Peace is a naff book because WHERE ARE THE BLOODY WIZARDS??”
One day, somebody might want to read your first short story. They can get a sense of the journey which led to you becoming #1 best-selling author in the world, living in a solid gold mansion on top of Buckingham Palace.
It also lets you look back and see how far you have come.
Revamping the oldies
Another, less drastic option is to edit your past writing. You might want to re-submit it to a publisher or update it on your blog. This is a good option because you get a like-new story or novel, without all the time it takes to craft a truly new one.
The drawback is that editing previously completed work might still be a waste of time. What if you used that time to write something completely new? You would still benefit from greater experience and, rather than having one updated story, you would have two.
Letting old dogs lie
So you could just leave you old writing as it is. It might feel like you are wasting those words you wrote, but they serve a purpose. They have value in the sense of what you learnt while creating them.
The experience is already yours and it will reflect in your new writing. So ignore the actual written words. How good is the plot? How special are the characters? If the story deserves revisiting, do so. If not, let it lie.
What do you think about your past writing? How far do you feel you’ve come?
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