Friday, October 12, 2018

Did you ever look back at your old stuff?

 Days drag, but years fly by. Wonder why. 

Happy birthday to my bright, grown up now, first grandchild who continues to bring me joy, sometimes annoy, and shares her little boys with me.

Did you ever look back on your own writing? Manuscripts, short stories, essays? 

Were you impressed and did you wonder, " Wow! Did I actually write this? Not bad."

Or did you cringe and wonder how you could have written such fodder?

Both have happened to me. Going through old files, I couldn't believe I made such strong verb choices and how swell I turned a phrase.

I've also cringed while reading some of my earlier writing. I couldn't believe how many unnecessary words I used. 

An example in overwriting: 
I enjoy walking early in the morning when the bright sun rises seemingly from the earth, into the vast sky, climbs the horizon, and lingers until late evening, when it slides back down and makes me equally happy.

An example in cutting unnecessary words:
Sunrise walks and sunset strolls bring me joy.  

An example in creative rewriting:
I'm thrilled at the first glint of sunlight as I stroll in stillness. Twilight holds the promise of a brisk walk and good night's sleep.

Now it is your turn:
If you have a few rotten nuggets on file, go back and rewrite. It is okay to use as many words as you need to get your point across. 

But THEN pare down. 

Does your reader not know that the sun is bright? Seems to rise from the earth or ocean? The sky is vast? The sun seems to slide back down?  

Tight writing makes for good reading. Now, pull up one of your own pieces of writing and slice and dice. If you want to run it by me, I will take a look privately. Let me know.


Val said...

It's hard to believe that I was even wordier than I am now, but I was. When I look back at my supersecret blog to when I started in 2005, I definitely cringe. I haven't noticed any stunning prose or well-turned phrases, but I DO sometimes crack myself up.

Connie said...

Like you, I have older works that I look back on. With some of it, I cringe. With others I am surprised that they still hold up.

Pat Wahler said...

Cut, cut, cut! One of those hard but necessary facts of life.

Brenda @ Its A Beautiful Life said...

Oh yes, I've done that. Been surprised with both joy and chagrin. Joy at reading something I'm still happy to find and read, and chagrin because I do like stuffing words into the corners of a piece. I am learning to curb it. I'm also learning that simple is better than too much.

Glad I found your blog ... enjoying your thoughtful posts.


Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Overwriting is easy to see when others do it, not so easy when we do it ourselves. When I edit a ms for someone, especially new writers, what I see most is overuse of adjectives. I've seen writers use 3-5 adjectives to describe a single noun! (Example: long, blonde, curly, shiny hair) For myself, I know I overuse the words "just" and "well" in my work. I've learned to search and destroy on revision.

Syed Mehmood said...

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