1. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    Looking Back and Reading What You Write

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by inkslinger, Jul 28, 2008.

    I stumbled upon a box of old schoolwork earlier this morning. I went through the box and found a few essays and short stories from a year and more ago. Reading some of the stuff, I can't help but cringe. One essay in particular, I earned a B+ for in my AP Lit Class, and after rereading it almost 2 years later, it's horrible. I remember writing it and feeling as if it were good quality. The same can be said for the short stories and other essays; I used to think they were decent, because I received good marks and put forth a lot of effort, usually. But rereading them myself, err, yeah. What was I thinking? Aha.

    So does anyone else ever look back on pieces/essays/short stories/etc. you've written in the past, and just.... cringe?
     
  2. FantasyWitch
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    FantasyWitch Contributing Member

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    God yes lol.

    If you look at my current stuff on here and my other past novel I am currently re-writing you would cringe!
     
  3. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Yeah I recently read the first draft of my novel. It was about 5 years ago, and meant to be humorous. Some of it is, most of it's just embarrassing!
     
  4. Rawiya
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    Rawiya Member

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    Right now I'm in the process of moving and I happened to run across some of the writing I did in high school and freshman year of college. I was utterly shocked at how much I've changed in a couple of years!

    I ended up just opening a beer, sitting down and reading all of it. Its was a good afternoon because I was the only one home and there was no one else to witness how incredibly embarrassing some of it was.

    Still wish I could find the big book of my writing, though. Now *that* would be fun to read. Some of the stuff is from middle school.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I do indeed cringe. But then I remind myself that it's a good thing, that it means I have made a lot of progress since then.
     
  6. Silver Random
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    Silver Random Senior Member

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    Yep. Whenever i read my first novel, which was started when i was 12 or something (im 16 now), although i love the story and in my head it is the best thing i've ever written, i cringe at some of the writing in it, and the way that the style can change from chapter to chapter based on what i had read recently when i wrote it.

    However, i do remember reading the ending of the 2nd novel i finished (the last 4 chapters were written 1-2 years after the 1st 11 (and are now lost @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@) ) i thought it was surprisingly good, although the writing wasn't exactly perfect and it did drag on a bit.
     
  7. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Heck yeah I cringe. I crige at stuff I currently write. Only thing that gets me through is looking back at the very first things I ever wrote and I'm like, "How did I ever think this was good?" I've gone from one paragraph text blocks to multi-page episodes. While I still have a LOOOOOOOONNNNNNG way to go, I think I really have come a ways from where I was.
     
  8. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    I guess for me it is not that embarrassing. I try to view stuff from middle school with a little leniency and giving myself a little room for errors caused by age. Then I accept that it is not all that bad. Stuff from highschool was decent and has stood up fairly well I have this thing about rewritting something thirteen times. I know it sounds crazy but I believe thirteen is my lucky number. ( Sucks if I ever write a novel) I think that helped it stand the test of time. Plus all that stuff had so much emotion in it at the time I think it transfered to print well. The truth is most of the stuff I have written has been put into print in some way or form even if I did not get paid for it when I was in highschool I just thought it was cool to be quoted. Especially by the Texas Society of Professional Engineers
     
  9. starrynight89
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    starrynight89 Senior Member

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    Yeah I agree with many of the people here. I don't like reading my stuff and to be honest, I feel really uncomfortable when other people read my stuff. I usually dont like re-writing things unless I'm sure that it can be better or if it is actually worth my time. . . :)
     
  10. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Precisely. So if you read your old works and like them, you should worry! :eek:
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Welllll. Or at least look to find some element to your writing worth bringing back.
     
  12. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I sometimes look back at my previous work, but I don't cringe. Is it as well written as I can produce today? No. But I can also see where I was at, and where I've made it too.

    Yes, I've gone back and looked at some college essays and even some things as far back as 7th grade. People also look back and are amazed at how rotten of drivers they were in their teens as opposed to later in life. But at the time, many teens think they've got it all figured out, and are ready for anything. (please note, not a slam on teens--I was one once too, just an analogy)

    If your writing is stagnant, it might be cause for concern. If you think you know everything or really have your 'writing act together', there is cause for concern. There are writers on forums (even this one :eek:) who come and go, but while around they proclaim 'how to do this and that' with such self-assured authority, and are closed to input, and in the long run never seem to improve or go anywhere. A click on their profile or quick visit to their website or blog, usually reveals they're not published. Often they haven't even completed a single novel, or even submitted a single short story. I wonder if they look back a year or two previous and see cringe, or even see where their work could be improved. And you know what? At least in my opinion, most of those writers seem pretty sharp and have potential.

    For the vast majority it takes time and work to improve to reach one's goals, be that publication, or just putting out quality work. It's more than just grammar and spelling. It's more than pacing or characterization, or plot. In the end it's just a full package--It's good story telling.

    Even successful professional writers look back on their careers and early works published and think, I'd have done/written some of their works differently. An interview with Poul Anderson I read years back comes to mind, when he discussed one of his early novels, The Broken Sword. A novel which is still one of my favorites. He saw flaws and mistakes, and that it could have been a better novel, a better read for his audience.

    Terry
     
  13. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    It's pretty sad when I read over my older stuff. I pity myself back then for how horrid my writing was, but even more, I pity myself right now. I had so much more fun when I was starting out because I didn't care if it was awesome or if it sucked. What I wouldn't do to have that much fun writing today...
     
  14. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Oh, yes. Definitely. Almost everything I've written prior to around 2001 makes me gag on some levels, usually.

    For the most part I don't find this so bad though. It means one is improving. I think most writers will cringe on looking back at their older work, and that's good. The way I see it, the writing may be bad now, but back then it was good according to our abilities, and now that our abilities have improved it only LOOKS lousy. The grades you mention seem to reflect this. The stories of mine that make me gag, I know they were the best I could write them at the time, so there's no shame in it. Though they can be somewhat embarrassing, yes.

    We can't all write masterpieces from the start! :D
     
  15. tnme22
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    tnme22 Member

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    I just found a folder of writing I did in 7th grade. At the time I thought all of it was pretty good but I can hardly get through it now. It's just so bad. Even things I did as a freshman I cringe at and that was only last year.
    However, all my writing I did in 2nd grade is just plain adorable... :)
     
  16. J Done
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    J Done Member

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    I wrote a short-ish story (about 30 A4 pages) a couple of years ago, and when I came to re-reading not long ago, my word usage, paragraph structure and pretty much everything else was shameful as to the standard I could write it now.

    So yeah, I know exactly what you mean.
     
  17. xMissEnvyx
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    xMissEnvyx Member

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    When I was younger I was the only writer in my group. So of course all my friends would praise me for how good my writing was. I actually thought i was the next Anne Rice for a while there...

    After high school I found out that I wasn't completely horrible but I had LOTS of room for improvement which i absorb like a sponge.

    Looking back at some of my former work (I have a binder full of stuff I thought was "good" throughout the years) I can see the how much I have improved by taking criticism. Both the good and bad.

    I also don't let certain friends read my work for obvious inflation of the head reasons :)
     
  18. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lmao ... always. I look back sometimes at some of the things I have posted for reviewing on this site and just ask myself "what was I thinking", thinking that what I had posted was even worth peoples comments.

    I try however, rather than just looking back at my peice, I find it can be a good writing exercise to try and re-write your peice, and improve it. That way, you are reviewing your old work, noticing yourself what you done wrong on it, and hopefully that will translate into future peices you write.
     
  19. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    Hmmm... >_> I rarely cringe. I have two boxes full of bits of paper with hastily scribbled words and half-filled notebooks dating back 15 years or more... Not that I think the writing was particularly good - because most of it isn't - but sometimes I'll find something I can use, or the germ of an idea that re-inspires me. (Although, I must admit that sometimes, the idea in incomprehensible. It's kinda fun to imagine what on earth I was thinking the day I wrote certain things I've come across, lol! o_O)
     
  20. Adelaide
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    Adelaide Member

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    Part of the time I'm pleasantly surprised at the little scribbles or poems I wrote when I was younger. And then, of course, there are the embarrassing ones that are so cheesy and self-indulging it's terrible. :)
     
  21. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Nothing to be ashamed of.

    We all started out from somewhere.
     
  22. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    You know that box next to the Wendy's?
    I found the first story I'd ever written a year ago. It was about a giant Hamburger that destroys New York City, complete with hand drawn illustrations. Looking back, I really miss how simple things were when you're six years old.
     
  23. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    lol, reading stories I used to write when I was 7 or 8 makes me actually smile. I think even if the writing was cheesy and campy, it's just adorable that I felt it was so good at the time. It's when I look at the stuff I produced when I was a teenager and up where I cringe. All of the short stories with pictures I wrote as a child is just plain cute. :)

    I once wrote a story about a bored girl who loses her hat, goes on a small quest to find said hat, and ends up having a really nice eventful day. And she never finds her hat. I wrote that when I was about 9, aha. It's actually a nice story I'm not completely ashamed of.
     
  24. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    You know that box next to the Wendy's?
    It sounds like a nice story, and kinda reminds me of Dogger, the children's book where the boy looses his stuffed animal and spends the whole day looking for him.

    I think the reason why most stories from people's adolescent years make them cringe is because they try to aim for maturity in their work, and it just falls short and seems pretentious. But when you're like five, you're not aiming to write anything really deep or meaningful. You write a story about a giant hamburger or a girl's adventure to find her hat.
     
  25. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    I'm inbetween novel drafts at the moment so am spending time reminiscing with some old friends (about 2 trees worth). Have to say, much time has been spent cringing, as well as cooing contently at the memories some of the work is connected to, but then I found a couple of pieces I thought could be improved and am currently rewriting in the hope they'll be of a sufficiently high standard to submit for review. I suppose it could be called a pet project.
     

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