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Tip Tuesday #70

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where readers of the blog send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to share a tip, please do so. You can e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. I happen to be out of tips in my queue, so today you get a tip from ME.

Edit some old writing.

Really! Pull up an old chapter, short story, article, blog post - whatever! - and edit it. The older the better. It will probably be utter drivel* but this exercise will allow you to see how you've improved since you wrote the piece while helping refine your current skill and style.

Try it and let me know what you discover!

*Editing old writing may lead to feelings of repulsion and a severe need for chocolately goodness. Before editing old writing, you should see that your mood meter is veering up and candy stash is well stocked.

18 comments:

B.E. Sanderson said...

Ack! Just the thought of pulling some of that old stuff out of storage makes me nausea. I yanked some out a couple years ago to show my daughter how bad it was and that was hard enough.

Kelsey said...

Great advice. One of the few novels I finished came from doing this.

Jennifer Pickrell said...

Hah, I actually just did this over the weekend. When I opened the document and skimmed through it, I thought, "Wow, I remember this being a lot better." Time and distance away from a ms really is key. I still liked the idea, but the execution = ugh.

Great advice!

Anonymous said...

Great tip. It's funny, I just did this with one of my older stories--actually, my first story.

OUCH. Much chocolate consumed.
But it was fun. Helped me see how I've progressed over the last two years. :)

Have a great day!

Renae said...

Ouch is right! I better stock up on chocolate for that one. It is nice to see that I have grown from that very first novel!

Heather Kelly said...

At this point, my current revision feels like old writing. LOL. Not that it's bad, but just that it's been a while. Sigh. But I have been working on other great new things. But it's time to finish that sucka. Thanks for the tip! :)

(I'm climbing back into the blogosphere--I had fallen off this fall...)

Matthew MacNish said...

This is so true. I'm amazed by how much my perspective has changed, even from a few short months ago!

Ghenet Myrthil said...

Good advice! I could see myself going back to one of the short stories I wrote before starting my novel.

Natalie Aguirre said...

This is so true. I've looked back on my first drafts of my current manuscript (written at least 6 years ago)and can really see an improvement. It might be a good idea when you're discouraged to just look back at them to remind yourself how much you've grown.

Misty Waters said...

Oh yeah!! I definitely go back to something old and work on revisions. It shows me just how far along I've come in my writing, plus it's amusing to see how bad I was. What could be better than laughing at ones self?

kathrynjankowski said...

Great advice, Casey. I think every writer should pull out the old stuff at least once a year for an ego boost.

Lisa Nowak said...

I notice things like echoes and extra words when I do this, but the weird thing is I'm expecting it to be complete and utter crap, and I'm surprised by what I got right back then.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Really good advice! I just found a piece I wrote and submitted (blushing) in the early 1990's. I still love the story premise, but OMGoodness the writing needs some serious help.

Happy New Year, Casey!

Alleged Author said...

That's a great idea! When authors pull up old stuff and edit it--especially published authors--it can yield a great book. Stephen King, anyone?

Jessica Silva said...

Good advice AND absolutely hilarious! Thanks for your tip, Casey :)

Ishta Mercurio said...

Um... I'm still working on polishing stuff I started over two years ago. Is that bad? (slinks off to eat more cookies...)

Sylvia Ney said...

I love the disclaimer!

BTW, I'm offering a contest for writers. If you're interested: www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com

Christina Lee said...

Hi Casey! I'm doing this right now! An old novel is being reprised (with my agent's blessing) and I cannot believe the mess! It's so embarassing, but I also recognize the passion there (and have been reminiscing about it). But, b/c it's crazy bad, it's like writing from scratch--ha!