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Why You Should Never Throw Away Your Old Writing

  |   Guide for Writers   |   No comment

By: Editing Intern Zoe Andrews

Don’t worry, Writers, I understand, we all do. There are some things you write that seem so terrible you can’t possibly let them see the light of day. This feeling may be particularly prominent when it comes to your older writing, perhaps from when you were a wee lad or lass. You, at your ripe young age, were so full of joy and excitement that you wrote about everything and anything. What the cat down the road could have been doing all day, why the universe is out to get you, or some great adventure you dreamt of one night but you woke up before it ended and so your story never ended either and you shoved it away into the depths of a computer file.

Worse yet, now that you are a more sophisticated writer and you have a better grasp on grammar and what would be considered “good writing”, these little bits of ideas seem even more horrendous! Oh, the days when we didn’t know “their” from “there”. You look back at these works with the intention of maybe fixing them up but you get so overwhelmed by how badly written they were that you give off a cringe and quickly shove them back into the hidden file where they belong. I am guilty of this on more than one occasion.

But, Writers! Please, take another gander upon those poor lost children and look past their flaws. Some of them are coal mines with hidden gems. I have stumbled upon some great lines and ideas while delving into their depths. Although these short attempts may be filled with grammatical flaws or plot holes, there is still room for great work. You wrote it after all, so there must be something great about it! You were full of ideas when you wrote these, and you weren’t bogged down by what to do and what not to do. You had complete freedom in these stories, and I promise something good came of it. When I look back on my old writing from when I was still in middle school, I get jealous of myself. Why can’t I have such fun and wondrous ideas now? So I cheat, I take from these works and use them in new projects where my grammar is better and my knowledge of writing has grown.

By throwing away these wonderful works of youth and inspiration, you are essentially throwing away a gold mine. Just because something didn’t work in this situation, doesn’t mean it won’t be perfect for another one. Save all your writing and when you are feeling especially in need of new ideas or something fun to write about, go back and browse through them. Even if you don’t find exactly what you need, I promise you will have enjoyed yourself enough to get back to work on your current project.

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