Writing is difficult work. To make a decent piece it not only takes a great deal of effort to create a draft, but there must be a rigorous editing process. All writers put some of themselves into what they write: their time, ideas, passion, etc. So, no matter how bad you might think it is at the time, don’t throw it out. Often it takes many iterations and an indeterminable amount of time to get it right.
Once you have written a piece, then you will prepare for another important step in writing, the editing and/or re-writing process. Do not throw out your work, whether it be the only draft or a beginning of a future draft. If you do, you might regret it later.
There are pieces of my writing that I have completely thrown out over the years. Why? Because I was never going to try and get them published. One of them I recall was when I was a teenager. I had written a piece and the characters had been linked to a television show, which means that even if I had wanted to publish it, I didn’t own some of the characters. However, these pieces are still a part of our writing history, and we may want to look back at them someday.
So, no matter how short of a piece that you have written, or how bad you might think it is, do not shred it or delete it. That bad story idea could be a future good idea someday. Sometimes, all it takes is a sentence to send your brain and writing into a completely new direction. That sentence might be part of something that you wrote a decade ago and felt was awful at the time. But inside there was a forgotten gem.
Another reason to keep our writing is so that we can practice different techniques. Perhaps, we are conflicted as to which tense a piece should be written in or maybe, we struggle with first person.
These old pieces of writing can be easier to work with as we probably don’t have the same emotional value connected to them as a piece that we want to publish. It might be that you’re afraid to make changes to the piece that you feel is just right. Except, you keep getting rejection letters about the piece and are unsure of where to turn next. You wonder what you could do next to make someone like it. Exploring old pieces of work can give you the freedom to work with something that you do not plan to send out into the world because you are less bothered to see what happens.
Keep Your Writing for Portfolios
Saving our work can also help us see how far we have come when it comes to the important aspects of a story like creating dialogue, developing characters or writing a great ending. Sometimes we might hit a plateau and not know where to go next in our writing; re-exploring our writing portfolios can help put us in a different mindset. It can help us see that we have made progress, that we have good ideas, and that while we might have hit a roadblock as far as publishing, or developing a new story, that we are capable.
In some cases, our portfolio might even unveil the start of a story that we once started and then put aside because we got too busy on other things to complete it, or a piece that we created and now want to improve.
Our writing portfolios could hold treasures from our past. Do not throw out these potential jewels because they could have a future, either just for you or for others too.
Imagine if some of our favorite stories didn’t exist today because their authors were unsure about their work and decided to throw it away. What if there was no Gone with the Wind or Harry Potter because their authors gave up on something that wasn’t working?
A Final Thought About Storage
As you read this, are you wondering where to keep your work because you have so much of it? You could consider scanning and saving it to a computer or USB. Just make sure that you have a secondary copy of the documents. Large storage bins or a filing cabinet are another option for keeping your work so that you have it, if you want to look back at it in the future.
Keeping your writing will ensure that you do not have regrets someday wondering what might have become of that piece of work that you got rid of because you did not see value in it at the time. You took the time to write it and that gives it value. Who knows what treasures you will find today in what you thought was yesterday’s trash?