My Biggest Writing Blunder

Writers are vain, no? That’s gotta be common knowledge or something. We’re all very sensitive when it comes to our writing, we immediately feel defensive when someone criticizes us, even if they do have a point, we cringe when we see our mistakes or read stories we wrote in the past… but at one point nearly five years ago, I was too vain and I did something terrible.

Something I still regret to this very day.

I got rid of my old stories.

Yes, you heard me right. One day I sat down to tidy up my files and notebooks, and in a rash and stupid moment, I threw out six notebooks filled with stories I wrote when I was still 12 – 14 years old. I was embarrassed by my writing; it felt too stupid and childish, and I wanted nothing to do with it. I thought that these stories were below me, and I couldn’t even look at them. I dumped them unceremoniously into the trash can and only looked back when it was too late.

They weren’t masterpieces by any means, and they weren’t that long either. But there were around 24 stories, and each one was nearly 20 pages long, and they were so sappy, so filled with clichés that would make you cringe and laugh… but they were my stories. Stories that I spent hours on end writing by hand, arguing about them with my mother whenever she took my notebooks away so I would study, sharing them eagerly with everyone who could read… and about 3 or 4 years later I went and chucked them.

My stories weren’t stupid (or maybe they were, but that’s beside the point), but I was foolish for throwing them out. In my opinion, the worst thing you could do as a writer is dispose of your old work. No matter how much it might make you cringe, it’s still makes a part of who you are as a writer.

I can remember some of them, like the girl who discovered she was a mermaid one day, and another who’d discovered she was from a different planet, and a story which resembled Thundercats to some extent, and one story about a girl who lost her family in a car accident and got amnesia…

Siiiiiiiigh. I would do anything to be able to read them right now. =[

Has anyone done this before? Do you save your old stories, throw them or hide them in the back of a cupboard where they will never see the light of the day? If you still have them, I encourage you to go and read them. Have a laugh at yourself, and give yourself a pat on the back for coming so far.

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39 thoughts on “My Biggest Writing Blunder

  1. I still have most of my early stuff. A lot of it has been adapted or combined into current stories. Perhaps you could write those stories again. It might be fun after that to rewrite them every five or ten years and see what changes.

    • Oh I wish I could. =[ But it’s been so long ago that I really don’t remember much about them.

      Thank you for your comment!

  2. Yes, sadly, I have done this. I had a Grade Nine project where we were assigned a number of poems to write, and I didn’t write any about the list of topics. Bad grade received, lesson NOT learned, and poems recycled.
    Ah, youth.

    • More like rebellious youth! You’ve just reminded me that I recycled all the stories I was assigned to write at school. Very sad-making. =[

  3. I probably don’t have all of my stories from when I was young. Usually, I wrote for school exercises. My own time went into journal entries, or drawing. But, I wasn’t precious about my “art”, either, unfortunately. That’s something I wish I’d taken more care with.
    I know I have (but am not entirely sure where) a series of wonderful stories, though … I used to talk people into doing a kind of “campfire” story with me – each person would write a sentence or two, fold the page so only the last line (or half-line, even) showed, and pass the page to the next person. I am going to dig those out one day soon. They were a laugh back then, I imagine they’re more or less so, now.

    • Oh I know how those work! My friends and I used to do that all the time, and we’d end up with really funny stories as everyone got wilder and wilder with their ideas. It’s great that you’ve managed to save them! =D

  4. I feel your pain. I know I wrote a lot of stories as a young teen and I don’t even recall what happened to them. I did manage to save a small collection of my poetry from that time period for which I am grateful. No matter how cringe worthy writing may be at the time, with enough distance it just becomes a window into the mind of a younger self.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one to do this, but at least you saved something! And I agree; I would’ve loved to see how my younger self used to think and write. Oh well. =[

      Thank you for commenting!

  5. K.L. Gore says:

    I’ve saved all my (poorly written) work. Interesting you should post about this because I’ve started a blog where I’m revising a story I wrote when I was 15. (http://revision411.wordpress.com/ if you’re interested.) Nowadays children are taught how to write stories, but back then all we did in Language Arts was regurgitate facts, dissect sentences, and memorize spelling words. Teens these days amaze me. Anyhow, it’s a shame you tossed all your old stories out. Though I suppose your home is much tidier than mine. 😉

    • You’re lucky you get to work on your old stories! I would take a messy home in a heartbeat if it’d bring back those notebooks I chucked! D=

  6. I threw mine out, too, after a really bad work experience that made me never want to write again. I am slowly regaining my writing self-confidence. Not sure I’d want the stories back, though. I remember them in my head, and could probably write them out again better than before!!

    • I’m glad you’re getting your confidence back! Hopefully you can create something even better out of those stories you threw out. =]

  7. I didn’t start writing until late. With age came understanding that life was short, I better hang on to everything. I back my stuff up five times–including a Carbonite account. Scared out of my writing chair I’ll lose it all.

    I feel your pain.

    • Losing all your work would be scary, and one can never be too careful. Technology is untrustworthy, and notebooks can be lost! Have you tried Dropbox too? It’s a great backup method.

      Thank you for your comment!

  8. lilaclex says:

    I almost did that once! But, instead, I just kind of threw them all under my bed and backed up the ones I’ve typed since then. Too bad you can’t get them back 😦 That sucks. A lot.

    And cringing at them is the best part! At least, for me it is. I do a little mental happy dance and go “yay, I’ve actually improved over the years – kind of!” Haha.

    There should be some Writers 101 rule somewhere to NEVER throw out old work. Hey, you could start that 🙂

    • It does suck indeed. You’re lucky you had a change of heart and threw them under the bed! They can always be found amidst the dust bunnies, but you can’t find notebooks in the trash. =[ Come to think of it, I would’ve loved to cringe at my stories, haha.

      And hey, maybe! You probably just gave me an idea for a blog post! =D

  9. Hey Zen,
    threw away some oldies too (written when 12-15). But lately (Like one month) I stumbled upon poetic and misc. texts written, hum….some 23 years ago….(I’am a newbie in the 40’s)….Encouraging. Found also a list of 30 fictional characters’ names…it made me smile 😉

    Keep on with your posts. I’ve just discovered your blog, thks for inviting us in your world.
    Floreva

    • Well I’m glad you were able to find something! That’s always nice. =] I wish that someday I’ll accidentally stumble across something of mine that I hadn’t thrown us.
      And I will! Thank you for taking the time to comment. =D

  10. Rosanne Moulding says:

    Oh this makes me really sad! I used to write Harry Potter fanfiction which I stupidly only posted on the internet and didn’t save, I’d love to read them back now. Maybe you could try to revive some of the plots of the stories (I quite like the mermaid one)!

    • Aww, that sucks. Were they deleted from the internet as well? Maybe you can find a backup copy somewhere! And maybe! The problem is that I already have way too many plots on my hands right now to even consider reviving any of them, haha.

  11. Rosanne Moulding says:

    Oh well that’s a good thing! Yeah it was about 9 years ago so my deliciously terrible FF will be far into the archives of the internet. Oh well, it’s probably for the best. I read the other day about a woman who lost her entire novel after working on it for 5 years, but her next one got her published so maybe its a learning point!

    • You could still look for it! It would make an interesting reading experience. xD And I would be devastated if my novel was lost. Utterly devastated. And I do hope she learned to backup her things.

  12. I lost my best early short story…it must have been saved on a ‘floppy disk’ and I lost the paper. myh newest novel is based on it however so I supposed they never are if you can remember parts. They are a part of you even when you can’t remember right now, tucked back in a corner of your brain so when you are 91 you may wake up one day and remember them. or maybe in less time. 🙂

    • Oh wow. A floppy disk? Must’ve been ages since I last saw one of those. And I hope I can remember them! Even if I don’t make use of all of them, it’d be nice to remember the kind of things I wrote as a kid. Thank you for your comment! =D

  13. I’ve saved most, but a lot has mysteriously gone missing in the transition from one type of file-saving device to another. Could kick myself for losing some of it. Lessons hard learned.

  14. That’s too bad! I have on occassion deleted a story or lost a notebook with some writing, but I’ve hung onto a good number of stories from the past. In recent years thanks to email I try to make sure I either email my documents to myself or send the text in an email and archive it so I always have it somewhere.

    I can understand why you probably did that – probably felt like you were giving yourself a clean slate at the time.

    Great blog you have here. And thanks for checking out my blog.

    • I do make sure to save everything right now, and I mainly use Dropbox! It’s such a useful tool. But yes, I probably thought I was ridding the world of some very awful writing, when I really should’ve kept it for me. =[
      Thank you for your comment! I’m glad you like my blog. =D

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