Friday, March 10, 2017

Spring clean your writing!

At the start of the year, most of us make new year resolutions. For some of us, they'll be going great. For others, they might be middling, and for the rest of us? Well, that fell flat on its face. Not to worry. Regardless of where you are now in your new year of writing, it's the season of spring cleaning!

Okay, okay, don't go busting out the mop and polish. What I'm talking about is having a look through your old folders (my friend affectionately calls this her "book graveyard"). Try reading a few pages (or all) of your older work. Any ideas in there you could repurpose? Anything better than you thought it would be? Something badly written but makes you giggle now? Great. These are all very useful.

For one, if there are things we can reuse, improve, or repurpose, then it adds another tool to our writing arsenal. And for another, if it isn't fit for reusing, then what can you learn from it? What strikes you as the most obvious flaw? Why didn't it work? They say taking time away from your ms gives you distance. Some of us manage a month or two away from our current ms before diving back in. But what about that ms you haven't looked at in a year? Two years? Five years? What can you learn from that? By checking it out again, it's going to help improve your skills just by the power of neutral (not emotion-filled) observation of your own writing.

You might also find parts in there that you love. Not all old writing is bad writing. There can be some real shining gems hidden amongst those pages. Perhaps you couldn't appreciate them for what they were before. Maybe they got trapped under the dust of a few dodgy scenes, but wherever they are, you'll recognize them now and be able to use them to learn more about your writing in another way.

Now, if you're an organization-bot like me, you'll end up creating folders & sub-folders & sub-sub-folders, breaking down all the necessary elements that appeal to you. If you're not, then a good mental spring clean of your old books without all the fuss might just be your thing. Either way, looking back can sometimes help us look forward. And clearing out your writing mental space can be done in a very physical way.

This is my way of spring cleaning my writing, my skills, and learning to appreciate what I've done well, what I didn't do well, and where I can improve.

Happy cleaning everyone!

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