A few years ago your old writing project was the best thing ever. It put a spring in your step and a twinkle in your eye. At the time of writing this great literary masterpiece you were positive it would be the turning point in your literary career.
You spent hours, days, weeks and months working on this project. It was all you talked about and everyone around you was given a regular update on its progress, whether they wanted one or not. When you were not working on it you were busy daydreaming about…getting stuck in a lift with a literary agent, sneaking it out of your bag (all 300 A4 sheets) and whilst they were hammering on the lift emergency button you would whisper, “whilst we wait to be rescued, you could read something I wrote…earlier…(cough cough)”.
Roll forward to the present day. The love you had for this project is now a distant memory. For whatever reason you moved onto writing other stories. However the sight of this past project now fills you with shame and a little bit of nausea. You find yourself saying stuff like, “what possessed me to write that story?” and “maybe I was insane when I wrote that and…(gasp) no one told me….(scream!).”
Sadly your old project wasn’t the turning point in your literary career. You are now glad the whole getting stuck in a lift with a literary agent scenario didn’t happen because it was in fact 300 sheets of literary wrongs. Ugh! How could you write such drivel?
The feeling of shame nibbles away at you. This past writing project had the worst opening chapter ever, the characters were flat and you had a nasty obsession with clichés. What you can’t understand is why anyone read it?
Someone asks you about that old project you were working on. Quickly you steer the conversation away and wish everyone would experience amnesia with regards your old work. More reminders of your old writing project crop up in your daily life and it’s like the universe is slowly torturing you.
Toxic writing thoughts are like wildfires and spread quickly throughout your mind. Soon negative feelings towards this past project cloud your thoughts and before you know it you have stopped working on your new projects and are thinking about quitting.
So how do you turn this potentially toxic situation around? Here’s how to stop feeling ashamed of old writing projects:
- Let them go. Stop holding onto all those negative feelings and wasting valuable energy. Make peace with them and let your past projects go.
- Forgive yourself. Do it! You wrote something which wouldn’t pass your quality control check today. We have all done this. It’s not a crime and no one died as a result of reading your bad thriller. Stop beating yourself up about it.
- Remember what you learned from this project. Every story we write teaches us something new. I am a firm believer of this. What did you learn through writing your old project?
- Accept the following – without this past project you would not be the writer you are today. It gave you the foundations for your writing career. This project set you up to write the next story and the story after that. You needed to write it to move forward.
- Think about your journey after writing this story. Did it spark your imagination for something else? Did one of the minor characters cry out with “please write a story with about me!” Thinking like this will make you see how valuable it was for you to write your old story because good things came from it.
- Be grateful. Show it some gratitude. The idea for a story showed up and you wrote it. Whilst you were creating it you had a wonderful time and for a short time in your literary career you experienced many creative highs. From some blog posts and writer tweets I have read lately some writers would love to experience this.
- Only for the brave – one day go back to it. Try to read it with a critical eye. Turn off your toxic mindset and read it. I have done this and its the most painful thing ever but you never know what might be hidden inside it!
Don’t let writer shame spoil your day writers and don’t grimace at the thought of old writing projects. They have helped turn you into the writer you are today.
Stand proud writer!