Reread Your Old Work, Even If It’s No Good
If you’re going to compare yourself to anyone, it should be your past self
Writing is many things but is not something you will always get right on the first try. Writing is the process of trial and error, making mistakes, and being confronted with your weaknesses. Writing is an ever-changing, ever-evolving craft, which is part of the beauty of the art. If you’re a writer, you have days where you feel like you know exactly what you want to say. On other days, however, it may feel like you just can’t find the words. A writer’s process and the journey is anything but linear. There are ups and downs; there are highs and lows. But it’s important to keep up with your craft, nevertheless. Or else your writing skills will become rusty, and your words will never flow.
There are many reasons why you should reread your old pieces, one being that you need to understand where you might’ve gone wrong, and where you can improve. I know, for me, I have a hard time using too many filler words. I too often overuse like, really, very, and actually. Sometimes when I reread old writing of mine I cringe because of the overabundance and repetitiveness of these words. But it’s better that I noticed this mistake so that I can correct it the next time I write. Another thing I have trouble with is being too wordy. Sometimes I want to write a beautiful metaphor or a relatable analogy, that I end up spending too much time developing it, and it breaks the flow of my writing. For me, I’ve learned to realize that sometimes it’s okay to be simple. It’s okay to be direct, and straightforward so you can get to your point. A metaphor is nice every now and then, but it’s not good to overdo it.
Another reason you should reread your writing is to see what you did right. It is important to recognize where you messed up and where you can improve, but I think sometimes we are too hard on ourselves, especially as writers. It’s important to take note of what worked, which words flowed well, and what we succeeded in accomplishing. I was rereading something I read, and I think something I did a great job on was my voice. Specifically my tone. The tone is everything in writing. The tone is how you will be perceived by your reader. For this particular piece of writing, my tone was very relatable. I read it and felt as if a friend were talking to me. Sometimes I try so hard to go above and beyond because I want to sound like I know what I’m talking about. But the truth is, sometimes I don’t, and it’s okay to be transparent with your reader. Almost always, your reader will appreciate honesty over fabrication, any day. Write what you know, and don’t try to come off to your reader as someone you’re not. They’ll see right through that.
Another very important reason to reread your past writing is to keep track of your growth. Those things you wanted to work on a few months ago, are you still making those same mistakes now? I notice that when I don’t reread my old work, I tend to fall back into old habits that I was trying to break out of. If your flaws are not pointed out to you and are not made physically visible to you, then you will never be able to attempt to correct them. It’s also good to take notice of what you might have improved on. Knowing that you’re improving in your writing will only further motivate you to write more. Tracking your growth is incredibly vital to your writing. Rather than comparing yourself to other writers, compare your current self to your past self. Ask yourself these important questions: How did your writing read a month ago? How does your writing read now? How do you want your writing to read a year from now?
Becoming a better writer is not something that will happen overnight. It’s sort of like training for a marathon. You don’t train just the night before, do you? (I sure hope you don’t.) You run a little bit every day, each day adding another mile. That’s how you should treat your writing. Something that you need to practice a little bit each day. Then, in a couple of months, once you look back, you’ll be proud of yourself. You’ll be able to see how all of that hard work paid off.