Sunday, June 3, 2012

This Old Thing?

How often do you read things you wrote a few years ago?

I think it's a good way to chart your progress as a writer. You can look at an older work and see how much you've grown in terms of voice, style, character development, word choices, etc. You may be tempted to look at an older work and cringe. That's OK -- I've done my share of cringing. Just make sure you uncover your eyes long enough to notice that you've progressed as a writer since you wrote that cringe-inducing passage.

Sometimes, though, you might surprise yourself and uncover something you really like. This happened to me the other day. I was reading an older work and, yes, cringing at some of the things I wrote. Right after a passage that made me want to gouge out my eyes, however, was a bief dialogue exchange I would have been proud to write today. In addition to charting your progress as a writer, older works can show you that you had the talent years ago and have just spent the intervening time honing your craft.

At least that's what you can tell yourself when you're not cringing. . . .

Happy writing, and make sure you uncover your eyes and read the good parts of your old works, too.


  1. Great point. In addition when reading old works you might find a story line which is good and that you could use today now that you are a better writer.

  2. Sometimes my older writing really surprises me...and I'll say...I wrote that...are you sure...those are good moments!

  3. Yes, we've all been there - and you're right Tom, among all the dross and teeth-cringing stuff there's the occasional gem.

  4. I think my writing must have platued a little bit ago, because going back to read old stuff I suck myself in, with the rare urge to cring or re-write. However, I've picked up reading again and have started taking writing classes in the hopes my writing starts improving. :}

    (Of course if I go way back, ther is defiantely cring worthy stuff... until you take age into accoutn) *grins*

  5. Thanks for the comments, all. Tasha, you make a good point. Sometimes you can rescue a good character or idea from the dreaded landscape of your old writing. Cathryn, age matters. :) The little stories I wrote when I was 8 are no doubt awful... but I wrote them when I was 8. When you're 8, you can write a "murder mystery" where no one actually dies. When you're older, not so much.