Writing for years and years improving your craft can be tough because at times recognizing progress can be difficult. We definitely are improving with each and every day, but you can only realize this when you look back at stories you wrote in the past. Looking back at things you wrote long before can be very uplifting and liberating because you see how much you’ve improved over time.
I found a story I wrote in two-thousand and nine, almost ten years ago, and reading it really brought home how much I’ve improved in those years. Reading the bad story I wrote back then made all the minute, daily improvements more apparent. I highly recommend backing up all your writing, no matter how bad or how old, so you can pull it out on a rainy day.
Here’s a short excerpt of one of my short stories from 2009:
I kick a shriveled leaf in frustration at the immense grey clouds stampeding across the vast sky. After a long day of school this was the last thing I want to see. It is going to rain. “Milton”, someone says breaking my state. I stop, heart pounding, momentarily petrified. However, then I see the “iPod kid”, as everyone called him, from school. “Hey how’s it goin’?” I say keeping my cool, as music blares from his phones, I don’t want to look scared. iPod kid squeezes his second ear bud in between his fingers, “Just listenin’ to some AC/DC. It’s old music, but it’s pretty damn good.” iPod kid offers me the ear bud, it’s previous status was being squeezed between iPod kid’s fingers. I lean forward, not wanting to be rude, take the ear bud and place it gingerly in my ear. “Hells Bells.” iPod kid says nodding his head and smiling. Hells Bells, Hells Bells, Hells Bells, Hells Bells, Hells Bells… Hells Bells ring angrily in my ear, DONG. DONG. DONG.
A few things stand out. A lot of short, awkward sentences, generic characters (iPod kid) and a lot of ‘hells bells’ onomatopoeia.
If you’re ever feeling discouraged, or tired, from the day to day grind of writing and feeling like you’re banging your head against a wall, I highly recommend looking up one of your early stories. Nothing will make the fruits of your labour more apparent.