|Photo credit: sonrisa electrica on Flickr|
And sometimes, it can be
embarrassing encouraging to
see some of my writing from last year or three or five years ago, because it
gives me a pretty good idea of how much my writing has improved over time. And
sometimes it’ll remind me of the ideas I had and inspire me to write something
new and brainstorm with new WIP ideas and play with words for a while.
But other times I look at my old writing and remember why I put it in the (virtual) drawer to begin with.
As writers, unless we experience some sort of computer (or non-computer) related catastrophe that destroys all archived copies of our writing, we’ll always have the files waiting to be opened again. And as we writers tend to be a perfectionistic bunch, it can sometimes be a little painful to venture into the database of our previously archived writings.
But I think there’s a lot that can be learned from occasionally looking back at where we started with fresh, more experienced eyes. Because while the flaws in our writing from a couple years ago may stand out as if a neon sign was pointing at them and dancing around in little circles, flaws in our writing from, say, yesterday, are much harder to find. And although we’d like to think that we’ve improved so much from our archived writings that we won’t find any of the same mistakes, chances are that’s not the case, regardless of how much we’ve improved.
Being aware of the flaws in our writing from a couple months or years ago can help us not to make the same mistakes again when we work on a new WIP. And even if we don’t go through our old work with a fine-toothed comb to try to pick out all the little mistakes on the page, just knowing what elements didn’t work in an old WIP can make it infinitely easier to avoid them in our newer manuscripts.
So next time you’re between WIPs and books and blog posts and you find yourself using the interwebs to entertain you for a while, take a couple minutes to go through your documents and pull out some of your old writing. You never know what you might gain from the experience.
Do you read your old writing? If so, does it help? If you don’t, why not?