6 Ways to Let Go of Past Writing and Create Something New

by Pamela Hodges | 67 comments

Our past writing can keep us from writing now. We writers may feel discouraged and not write if we think our past writing was horrible. Or maybe we think we were brilliant, and we will not write because we feel we can never write that well again. Or maybe we think we are better at being typists for our cats than we are at writing our own stories.

Writer: 6 Ways to Let Go of Past Writing and Create Something New

A Writer Who Let Go

I met a writer last week, Sheila, who destroyed her past writing. She told me she had just shredded everything she ever wrote—journals, poetry, and short stories. I asked her if she still had the shredded paper. I wanted it.

We met in Valley Forge State Park by the bike trail at three o'clock. She walked over to the park bench where I was sitting in the shade. She carried only a small purse. Where is the shredded paper? Is it in her purse? Maybe she didn't write that much? I wondered.

“Did you bring your shredded writing?”

“It's in the trunk.”

The bag of shredded paper was as large as a human torso.  A bag of words, sentences, paragraphs, thoughts. Shredded.

I asked her, “Why did you shred your writing?”

“I was so attached to the writing. I thought this was the best work I could ever do. I wasn't writing. I couldn't.”

“What did it feel like to shred your writing?”

“I haven't written in three years. Once the writing was shredded, the attachment was gone. I feel like I have a clean slate now. My old writing doesn't hold me back anymore.”

“What will you do now?”

“I will go and buy a new notebook and reacquaint myself with my writing self. With who I am now. I want to write again.”

She gave me the bag of paper and then drove away. Maybe to buy a new notebook.

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How Much Does Your Writing Weigh?

The bag of shredded writing weighed eleven pounds, fifteen ounces. The bag was 36 inches long and 15 inches wide. A long rectangle.

I wanted to photograph her words. Her words became art. Shape texture.

I am not going to throw the paper away. I am going to make it into a sculpture. (Would you like to see it when it is finished?)

Writers Change Over Time

Sheila was unable to write while she still had her old writing. But now that she has let it go, she will write something new.

The new writing will be different than the writing that came before. That is a good thing. The old writing was worthwhile, and the new writing will be, too. But until Sheila let herself move beyond the old writing, she could not create more.

Writers change over time. Embrace this process and give yourself permission to change.

Each new writing project will be different from what came before. We don't need to destroy what we have already written like Sheila did, but we might need to find strategies to help us approach our writing differently.

I know that change can be disorienting, or even discouraging. But even as you let go of old writing so you can create new writing, remember that none of your work is ever wasted because you wouldn't be where you are now without it.

“Your writing is not you. You are more than the sum of your writing. It's okay to let go of the things you have written.”
— Alice Sudlow, Editor and Word Wizard

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6 Ways to Move in a New Direction With Your Writing

Do you need to allow yourself to change? Sheila shredded all her writing. You do not need to shred all your writing if you don't want to. Instead, try one of these strategies to get reacquainted with your writing self.

1. Write in a different location

If you have always written in the same chair at your local coffee shop, sit in a different chair. If you write in your closet behind your winter coats, consider writing at your kitchen table where there is better air circulation.

2. Travel

Go to a different grocery store to buy cat litter. Or be daring and drive six hours to Niagara Falls and smell the fresh Canadian air.

3. Change your writing routine

Write in the morning instead of at night. Write before you clean the seven litter boxes, not after. Write with a felt pen instead of on your computer. Write while listening to classical saxophone by Bryon Bellows. Bryon is my cousin.

4. Write in a different genre

If you normally write about your cat, write about people. If you normally write children's stories, perhaps write an adult thriller. If you usually only write a grocery list on Monday for grocery shopping on Wednesday, consider writing a short story.

5. Change the length of writing you do

Instead of writing novels, write a short story. Or perhaps write a letter a friend who lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, whom you really miss.

6. Change a household routine

Do your laundry on Tuesday instead of Monday and see if that changes how you approach your writing. If you decide to only wear black shirts for a year, will that let you focus more on your writing because you don't have to decide what color shirt to wear? (I will let you know if it works. All my shirts are black except for two gray shirts. But, I am going to go all black on October 1st.)

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You are a writer. You can write.

If you didn't like what you have written in the past—you are learning. Keep writing.

If you really liked what you wrote in the past—you can do it again. Keep writing.

If you loved every word you wrote in the past—edit out the words you love but don't need. You don't have to keep everything. Keep writing.

If your past writing is keeping you from writing today—forget about it. Sit down. Write. Keep writing.

Have you ever felt like your old writing is keeping you from writing now? Please let me know in the comments section. I would love to know more about your writing. Really.

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes on a work in progress. Or, if you want to, write about something you have never written about before. Give yourself permission to experiment.

Whatever you choose to write, when you're finished, share it in the comments and leave feedback for other writers.

p.s. What day do you do laundry?

p.s.s. The Second Annual Wacky Writing Prompt Scavenger Hunt comes back on September 13th! If you have any suggestions for prompts, let me know in the comments. If I use one of your prompts in the scavenger hunt, you will win a box of 30 pre-sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga pencils because you never know when you might want to write down a story idea. And who has time to sharpen a pencil when you have an idea?

xo
Pamela

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Pamela writes stories about art and creativity to help you become the artist you were meant to be. She would love to meet you at pamelahodges.com.

67 Comments

  1. Reagan Colbert

    To be 100% honest, I would never, ever shred my writing. I’m grateful to be able to say that past writing doesn’t hold me back – as a matter of fact, it motivates me.
    When I go back and read a scrap of writing from 5 years ago, I’m blown away by how much I’ve changed. When I see how much better I’ve gotten (and how bad I was!) I am encouraged by it.
    And I was also shocked to see that I have already subconsciously done a couple of your suggestions above – in the past week! I’ve shaken up my writing, and paused my historical WIP to try something new – fan fiction short stories. Sci-fi fan fiction, actually. (something I’ve never even thought about writing). It’s shaken things up, and helped me refocus.

    I completely admire Sheila for doing what she did, and I wish her the best with her writing endeavors! 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Reagan,
      How fun that you are trying a new kind of writing. What part of history is your historical book? I like the idea of trying something too.
      I admire Sheila too. I have all of the fragments. They seemed too precious to put in a landfill.
      Thank you for sharing your process.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Reagan Colbert

      It is fun 🙂 My book series is set in 1AD Jerusalem, at the crucifixion of Christ. I’ve actually published the first 2 on Amazon.
      Still, it was fun to take a break from that and write futuristic sci-fi!

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      How did you choose the subject matter and genre you did?

    • Reagan Colbert

      HI Jonathan,
      Really, it was 100% inspired. It wasn’t me, pretty much 🙂 But it was on Palm Sunday of this year, when I was reflecting over all the re-tellings of the Passion story. I realized that so many POVs had been done, but never (as far as I knew), from the POV of the Roman soldier who crucified Jesus.
      So I wrote it. I ended up publishing 2 books, and I’m writing the third. 🙂

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Where are your books available?

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Thanks

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Just downloaded Book 1. I will read it this weekend before and after a hot air balloon festival.

    • Reagan Colbert

      Thanks, Jonathan! Have fun, and I hope you enjoy the book! 🙂

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Reagan,
      I am a retired pastor and when I recently left my office at my church for the last time, I threw away all my sermons, bible studies, and prayers. That was a 17 year old collection. It was a record of who I was, not who I would become. I didn’t feel I could really start anew without letting go to the past. It was a very strange experience to throw it all away. It was the only thing I could do.

    • Reagan Colbert

      Wow, that’s amazing to me. Did it help you in the way you wanted it to?

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Actually it has. I am teaching a new Bible Study and I am experiencing preparation in an entirely different way than I have before. And I have been preaching a bit and I have found that the scriptures speak to a different me. I am not who I was and so I experience the scripture in a very different way

    • Reagan Colbert

      Sounds like God has used your decision in a great way! That’s awesome, Jonathan! 🙂

    • LilianGardner

      Jonathan, I do admire you.
      The day is approaching when I, too, will throw away a huge pile of writings from the past, without regret, I hope.

    • David H. Safford

      100% AGREE. My refusal to shred is utilitarian, though. I keep all my old writing because I believe inspiration needs to be captured when it arrives. And if it arrives and reignites your passion for an old project, it’d be wise to have that project on-hand!

      Trashing your work may wipe the slate, but the permenance of it seems counter-productive. For me, stashing old stuff in a filing cabinet has the same effect as the garbage (out-of-sight, out-of-mind), but it’s still “there” if I need it.

      I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a sudden epiphany about an old project and sprinted up to my office and dug through the filing cabinet. “Resurrecting” an old project actually helps me to acknowledge my own growth and appreciate power of inspiration to the creative process.

      I love Pamela’s 6 Steps above, too. I’m about to implement them before starting a new project in a new genre.

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Thanks for this insight. It is amazing how many different approaches have surfaced. Obviously, this article provoked many thoughts. We are lucky to be at this aren’t we? Thanks again.

  2. MDPerry

    When I attended college for my graphic design degree, one professor told us that one of the best things that could happen while working on a layout was to have it accidentally deleted. It seems like a waste, but losing all that work is a way of dropping all the undesirable results we force ourselves to accept for whatever reason, deadline, etc.

    It’s refreshing to start completely over with a design. All the hard mistakes are out of the way, we can’t cling to our “darlings,” and a new spectrum of potential opens up. Our effort to condense the previous work into a new, refined form becomes much easier, and the result is cleaner and more elegant.

    Not that I’d want to accidentally delete a whole rough draft of writing, but I think the concept is similar.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hi MDPerry,
      That is interesting how different artistic fields can have similar ways of creating fresh ideas. Thank you for sharing what your professor said.
      Killing extra words and designs.
      Did you ever delete a file while you were designing?

      xo
      Pamela

    • MDPerry

      Yes, I did it at least twice, on purpose. It , but it rescued those layouts from a fate worse than deletion. Both turned out to be top portfolio pieces during the graduation semester. I no longer have my portfolio (long story), nor do I work in the field, but the lesson remains relevant to me: The longer I keep my old stuff around, the more it rubs off on my present endeavors.
      Cheers,
      MD

    • MDPerry

      Whoops. Sorry about the typos. No way to edit posts, I guess.

    • Pamela Hodges

      Hi MD,
      I didn’t notice any typos. Under your name there should be three options in grey, Edit . Reply . and Share. You should be able to edit what you say. Lessons learned are still valuable even if you aren’t still in the field. I used to work as a commercial photographer, and I still know to not rely on rental equipment while shooting.
      Cheers to you too. 🙂

  3. Samreen Ali

    I am writing about romance at the moment it is kind of difficult when you get to the middle of the book you can’t think of what to write .shredid so much A4 papers but I told myself to keep on writing.

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hi Samreen Ali,
      Yes, keep on writing. Your story will find a way home.
      xo
      Pamela

  4. Jean Blanchard

    Here’s my 15 minutes-worth …

    How brave of Sheila to shred her writings. I would like to do the same but my pages are my babies. I mean, what age do you let your offspring fly the nest? My sons flew away thirty years ago. They were flesh and blood lads with a yearning for new lives of opportunity and adventure. They have their own families now, their own companies and homes to care for. I miss them but I escaped the empty nest syndrome many years ago.

    It was hard to let my children go but that is exactly what you bring your children up to do. Having said that I now realise that that is not what I have been writing for all these years for. My writing has been my secret, pieces of which has only been read by a select few. This is far from helpful to me in my development as a writer. I can see that now.

    I am trying hard to remember my characters in their flesh and blood bodies, as far as I could write about them in their humanity. Who to keep? Who to shred? It is so difficult to think about this, I am dicovering. I am not attached to the characters in my short stories. But I am attached to Pammy, whose story is harrowing; and to Lois whose story is elusive and difficult, just as she is herself. In fact, Lois, of own volition, is trying to get into Pammy’s story. And I am mightily confused.

    I can’t abandon my present protagonists even though I’m making no headway with either of them. I reckon, having had a good think, I’m going to chuck everything in a bin bag and stick it in the loft – just another way of saying I’ll leave a bit longer before I shred them. 304 words

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hello Jean,
      Sheila shredded because it was the right thing for her to do. It sounds like Pammy and Lois are two very real characters that want to have their story told. Maybe they just need a little break. I read one writer found out what his protagonists wanted to do when he went for a walk.
      In a story someone wants something. The story is the conflict they face trying to get it. A character is changed at the end of the story.
      What does Pammy want. (Love that name, my mom calls me that sometimes, but no one else is allowed to. )
      And what does Lois want?
      My oldest is 21 and she has left home, still have two at home, 17 and 14. It sounds like your protagonists are ready to leave home too, just like your children did.
      Now to find the way out. How will they leave.
      I am so excited to find out what happens to Pammy and Lois.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Jean
      I like the comparison you make between your pieces of writing and children. I can sense your reluctance to let your kids go, but that is what we know has to happen at some level. Also at some level, putting our writing aside or finishing a piece really has the same effect doesn’t it – for that particular labor of love, an end has come. But in each ending there is a new beginning or so I have heard. I hope the Muses comes back to you.

  5. Ariel Benjamin

    Much needed. Thank you

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hi Ariel Benjamin,
      Hope you are well.
      Keep writing. 🙂
      xo
      Pamela

  6. Leasa

    Today I wrote two haiku. I haven’t wrote one since i was a child and we learned about them in school. I did a little research and viola.. a haiku for you..

    My tranquility
    Happens early morning
    On my serene porch

    Reply
  7. Leasa

    Today I wrote two haikus. I learned about them in school, and we wrote them as an assignment. I tried my hand at them today, and viola…a haiku for you…

    My tranquility
    Happens early morning
    On my serene porch

    Reply
  8. Kristin Rivers

    I have actually ripped, not shredded, some of my writing in the past but that was more for personal reasons. It broke my heart and made me feel I was denying a part of myself but I have since gotten over it. Once in a while when I feel down in the dumps about not writing, I look at my past work and still think, “I wrote THAT?!” Leaves me amazed that I wrote such emotional pieces and crazy stuff.

    I always wanted to write novels more than anything, but lately I decided to focus on writing short stories and have been considering novellas, too. It’s been neat with entering these contests submitting short stories also because some give you specific guidelines. For example, one is for an anthology for short stories about the everyday struggles of superheroes. Next, I’m participating in another writing showcase writing horror, which is OPPOSITE of what I love reading, which is usually romance and Christian fiction. But, I love the psychological aspects more opposed to the gory parts of horror so it’s been fun exploring that. I even wrote an Elizabethan play my first year of college that was influenced by one of Stephen King’s novels (the novel was Misery)! Still have it in my folder to this day. I showed it to a few friends and they looked at me like did you really write this?! lol!

    I really enjoyed this post because it was not only relatable, but gave me encouragement not only to keep writing again but to explore and try new things. I also started a writing blog recently too. Still new to the whole thing but it’s been another great outlet to write!!

    Thanks for this Pamela!

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Hi Kristen Rivers,
      How fun you are writing about new topics. The horror writing sounds intriguing. Yes, the gore can be a bit messy, but the way they bad guys think can be fascinating.
      Trying new kinds of writing will influence all of your writing. Learning something new grows our brain cells. So I have heard.
      And a writing blog too. How often do you post your writing. That is a great way to gain confidence. Write and publish.
      You are very welcome.
      xo
      Pamela

  9. Bruce Carroll

    Below is my practice, more from my WIP. For those who haven’t been following, Akiko is a blind teenager with amnesia and lives with a foster family, the Olsens. She has just had a date with Tommy, and he made out with her on his porch before his mother insisted his friend go home. (They also, apparently insignificantly, heard a siren while they were on the porch.) My practice picks up with Akiko’s walk home.

    * * *

    As she headed home, she thought about she and Tommy. He had been so…passionate…on the porch swing. But was she his girlfriend now? From somewhere came the smell of wood burning. Someone grilling, she told herself.

    She could hardly wait to tell Sarah about her date, about how Tommy had kissed her and kissed her. She wondered, briefly, if she should tell Sarah, but she knew she had to tell someone.

    Another siren interrupted her thoughts. It came closer, approaching her from behind. Soon a large truck rumbled past her, siren wailing. A fire truck, probably. It sounded too big to be an ambulance. She felt a growing lump in her throat. That was no grill she smelled, it was foul and acrid. Like the smoke in her dream.

    She quickened her pace. The truck turned up ahead, right where she was going. Right onto her street.

    Before she even got there, she could hear the clamor on the Olsen’s street; shouting, the spray of water, the dull roar of a building burning. The smell of smoke was much stronger here. Her knees felt weak and her heart hammered in her chest as the lump in her throat threatened to choke her. It had to be a neighbor’s house, she told herself. But she knew as she got closer she was lying to herself. She felt tears in her eyes, streaming down her cheek, and told herself it was because of the smoke.

    This was no accident. She didn’t know how she knew that; just a gut feeling. But she suddenly believed she was in danger. She strayed off the sidewalk, groping in the darkness that was her constant companion until she found a hedge. She hoped to get closer without being seen.

    She got close enough to hear someone talking.

    “Two victims, one male, one female. Both in their mid-forties. Both dead at scene.”

    Akiko felt like she might throw up. The victims were Mr. and Mrs. Olsen, she was sure of it. And if she had had her date with Tommy yesterday, as they had originally planned, she would have been home, too!

    Reply
    • Pamela Hodges

      Bruce,
      Please, please, please, always do updates on your work in progress about Aikiko. The suspense is palpable.
      The Olsen’s are dead? And the suspense of the sirens going to where she was walking was intense. It had to be. And it was.
      I hope she is safe behind the hedges.
      One question,
      “As she headed home, she thought about she and Tommy.”
      Who is the “she and Tommy?”
      Is it Akiko?
      Would it sound clearer to say, “As she headed home, she thought about Tommy.” or “As she headed home, she thought about herself and Tommy.”
      and “And if she had had her date with Tommy yesterday,” or
      “And if she had seen Tommy yesterday,”
      Or “And if she had her date with Tommy yesterday,”
      I got confused with the “had had”
      I hope this is helpful.
      xo
      Pamela

    • Bruce Carroll

      Thank you, Pamela — that is the kind of help I most need! I always know what I mean when I write it, but I’m not always good about making it clear to my readers.

      I’m very flattered: you seem to be enjoying Akiko’s story as much as I. I’ll continue to post about her when it fits the practice exercise. I’d also be happy to keep you personally updated, but I’m not sure about the ethics of posting links in these comments. Perhaps someone can offer some guidelines in that regard? In any case, I have an online presence, so if you are as interested as you seem to be, please look for me.

      Thanks again!

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      I am enjoying your story Bruce. It is clear and definite. LIke Pamela, I hope you keep us up to date about the adventures to come.

    • Bruce Carroll

      I am just so indescribably flattered to find I am creating a fan base for a book that isn’t even written yet. Thank you, Jonathan! I intend to do everything I can to not disappoint.

  10. Beverly Ann

    Tuesday, August 30, 2016 Writing Practice–a travel journal entry.

    A surprise exploration into desert antique stores is a delightful treat for our family. The hubby, our Cavalier puppy, and I venture out to Laughlin, Nevada for a little rest and relaxation. Really! No, not quite. We decide to take advantage of a promotional vacation package from one of the Laughlin Hotel & Casinos. You know the type of promotion that gives you a couple of night’s free room. The draw is to get you to their establishment and then hope to entice you to gamble, dine and gamble. Aware of this we still decided to go. After all, why not! Since we had no desire to spend our entire time at the slot machines, we decided to check out nearby Arizona communities.
    So, right after breakfast we headed toward Kingman, Arizona. Stealing away to Kingman is not a new trek as we’ve done this before. Each time we’ve been there we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the antique stores there. Sadness quickly descended upon our happy disposition upon witnessing the many business establishments that have closed their doors as we walk up and down the streets in downtown Kingman. Concern mounts as we head toward our two favorite shops. Finding they’ve been spared from the ravages of the economic decline, we are delighted. After scouring their contents, we continue our journey. At the corner of Beale and 4th streets we stumble onto a gem—a quaint little antique shop.
    Entering the little shop we are greeted by two gray-haired, friendly grandmothers. Our spaniel accompanies us and is secured in her stroller. The grannies are amused. It was such a precious moment as they petted our puppy and rubbed her special spot behind her ears. Our puppy is in heaven with all of this loving attention. We spend an hour roaming the shop and chatting with these two adorable grannies. Needless to say, this particular shop is now number one on our list of favorites.
    The small shop is very quaint and well arranged. The perimeter of the shop is lined with shelves that held all types of treasures. The center part of the shop is set up in rows of shelves so you can easily walk up and down each row. The treasures are neatly arranged on each shelf. We walk away with a few precious treasures expanding our personal collection.
    We head to our next destination, 80 miles away, in the town of Oatman. Traveling on Route 66, unfolds an extremely winding narrow road taking us through a maze of hairpin curves causing my nerves to fray as we climb in elevation. Once through the maze, we quickly come upon what looks like the main street of a ghost town. Surprised by the old weathered wooden structures it becomes evident that this town is struggling to survive as a charming tourist spot. A herd of burros freely walking down the middle of the road looking for edible handouts from the tourists is a charming thing discovery. Definitely a photo opts in the making. The novelty of this town definitely warrants a return visit.
    The desert heat begins to takes its tool but we continue our journey to Bullhead. A familiar stop, Bullhead affords us another opportunity to roam antique stores. An added bonus is the opportunity to visit with friends, proprietors of two of such shops. Opportunities to reminisce with each gentleman and see their latest acquisitions are always a joy. Additionally, our puppy loves the attention she gets from these kind gentlemen. Alas, catching up with old friends, exploring hidden artifacts and discovering priceless treasures is a superb way to escape from our daily routines

    Reply
    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Thanks for this “memoir.” Did you intend it to be a memoir or something else? I sensed some sadness in this piece as two of the towns you visited were on the decline and it felt to me as if you were mourning the decline of places you had discovered. But equally, I sensed hope in your piece in the interactions you had with the proprietors of the antique shops. Even in the decline around them, they were there for folks like you. Are you going to expand this piece?

    • Beverly Ann

      Thanks Jonathan. I didn’t realize that my piece was more of a memoir. Thanks for pointing that out. Thinking about it, I guess that a journal entry even meant to be a travelogue is really a type of memoir. I’m planning on expanding it but not sure where it will lead me.

  11. Jonathan Hutchison

    Random Thoughts

    Journal Entry, May 5, 2016

    1. Choose your words carefully. They do no harm till they are spoken or written down. Take care that your words are a reflection of the meanings you want to share.
    2. No matter how slowly you think you are going – go slower. Use all of your senses to find solid ground, a solid foundation, solid footing before you move on. Try not to slip, stumble or fall.
    3. Find discipline in your life. There is nothing worse than starting something and never taking it to completion. That attitude makes for laziness and being sloppy. Finish each task and then discern the lessons you learned at the completion of each task.
    4. Strive to understand, not just experience. Try to be transformed by all that comes your way – do not stubbornly hold on to what you were before new adventures gave you something new to ponder.
    5. If there is dissatisfaction in any area of your life – look at it squarely and ponder it for a bit – then move on to satisfaction. All satisfaction comes from knowing/perceiving the lesson you have been offered.

    Journal Entry, July 14, 2016

    1. Reading the thoughts from May 5. I have no idea what I was thinking or doing.
    2. I am writing with difficulty. I probably need to have fewer expectations.

    Journal Entry, August 30, 2016

    1. So I am being asked to go in a different direction, a direction that will shake off the cobwebs and free me to get back to writing, writing anything at all.
    2. This assignment comes in the nick of time. I am ready to have my blog “go live” on Thursday. I am so conflicted about the blog. Will it be of interest to anyone but me? Will I have enough creativity to keep at my theme? Do I really have anything to say? I am not commercial enough.
    3. And so I write for fifteen minutes. What have I done? What have I done?

    Reply
    • Gladys Bauer

      You’ve done a great thing! “—and me thinks” – you are on to greater things, yet!
      Thank you for the Random Thoughts – journal entry May 5. It is helping me some. I’m still clinging to the illusion of nabbing an agent to represent my work of historical fiction. Thus, it is difficult for me to let go without closure – thus barring fruitation of the work I am on now. Your wisdom might yet help me to let go and move on.
      Thank you!!

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      I am glad that you found my random thoughts to be of benefit. You have made my month. Thank you

    • Gladys Bauer

      As I struggle along like a crab – one step forward and, two steps back, I keep your advice in mind. As soon as you have it all together, please post the address of your blog. Looking forward to it.

      One of the first fans,
      Gladys

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Just turned on the blog
      foundationalhope.com

      Hope you enjoy it

  12. Grant Jonsson

    I have been fighting myself the past couple days trying to force myself to sit my ass down at my computer to write a short story I’ve had gestating for a couple weeks. Today’s challenge got me to do just that so #1 thank you!

    #2: Here is my excerpt, it combines the few sentences I previously had written with what I came up with in the last 15 mins.

    My niece’s face had been cut up in a bad way and it was all my fault. My sister Jasmine and I were asked to wait in the nail biting room; a standard hospital waiting area with poorly painted white drywall lined with old cinema chairs that had stopped being comfortable over a decade ago. So named the nail biting room because Jasmine had taken away the whites of her right hand fingernails since we arrived close to thirty minutes ago. We know Casey is alive. My decisions were not fatal and I force myself to repeat that thought over and over again as I sit there watching Jasmine’s now bleeding fingers. I catch her staring at me.
    “How can you just sit there?” she asks with an impatient scowl.
    “I’ll pass out if I stand. How is that you keep finding leftover nail to bite off?”
    “Ow”, she calls out looking at her index finger.
    I raise an eyebrow at her. She hated when I did that back when we were kids, and I only relish the opportunity to use it now. “Don’t be an ass, not right now.” I raise my hands in surrender.
    “Tell me she is going to be okay, Graham. There has been a knot in my stomach since you two left my driveway this morning and it’s only gotten worse. I know she is alive, but is she going to be alright?”
    I stand up and hug my sister. She hesitates slightly at my touch but then slowly reciprocates, only then realizing how tense she had been.
    “She is going to be fine. The doctors are going to take amazing care of her. There will be a scar.” I feel Jasmine shudder as I mention it. “But she is strong. It was an accident, a simple accident.”
    “I should never have let you take her this morning.” Jasmine states plainly.
    I take a step away from her and look into her eyes. I can’t hide the pain I feel from her comment.
    “Do you blame me?” I ask.
    Jasmine shakes her head and waves her hand to tell me to forget what she said as she turns away from me. She crosses her arms and feigns watching the lone television hanging up in the far corner playing the local news channel. “Don’t ignore me, please. Answer the question, do you blame me?”
    “What does it matter if I do? It doesn’t change what happened?”
    “It matters because it can change what happens moving forward.”
    “Now what is that supposed to mean?”
    “Don’t play dumb, Jasmine. You know what it means?”
    She stares at me with questioning eyes waiting for me to explain myself. I watch her slowly realize what I mean.

    Reply
  13. Abigail Clark

    Since I’m still a student, I don’t have the frequent opportunity to travel, but somehow I still create new pieces of writing. I try different styles of writing and explore those limits. I think that is the main reason why I keep creating these pieces – I want to continue exploring my writing and I want to improve. Trying to conquer a new style of writing may be just the thing that motivates people to create new writing.

    Reply
  14. Anh Nguyen

    Pamela,

    After reading Reagan’s comment, I guess those who feels the need to shred their writing are the ones who needed a fresh start, maybe a change from the person they used to be?

    Sometimes, I would write with the sole purpose of hitting the trash bin button, sometimes I write to remember. No matter how much you love the craft, it’s best not to let it – or anything else, define you as a person. Writing is a part of you, not you.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Anh

    Reply
  15. Renee

    I am very attached to my old (and sometimes FAILED) writing. This helped me a lot. Actually, it even inspired me to make a website where i renewed my writing experience.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Hutchison

      That’s great. Stay at it. Once a writer always a writer. Let your imagination go wild.

  16. Amie Corson

    I’m new at giving freedom to my writing. I’ve always expressed myself best through the written word but have never consistently worked on it. I’ve recently made the decision to start. Here’s something that was in my head this morning that I put on paper. I’m giving myself permission to experiment, Pamela.

    I Need……

    I need to load the dishwasher.
    I need to put the laundry in the dryer.
    I need to go the store and pick up milk and laundry detergent.
    I need to write.

    I need to pick up my child from school at 2:30.
    I need to mail off the rent payment.
    I need to sweep up the dog hair off the floors for the millionth time this week.
    I need to write.

    I need to plan what we’re having for dinner.
    I need to clean the bathrooms.
    I need to finish that book I’ve been reading.
    I need to write.

    I need to stop feeling like I’m no good at writing.
    I need to stop comparing myself to other writers.
    I need to stop making excuses for why I can’t become a writer.
    I need to write.

    Reply
    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Sometimes the format of what we write is as important as the content. I liked what you did with this piece. Ordinary thoughts about ordinary things formatted in a way that isn’t ordinary. That made all the difference for me. And you are a writer, forget the becoming part.

    • Amie Corson

      Thank you, Jonathan! What you said really lifted up my spirits!

    • LilianGardner

      I’m just the same as you.
      the thought, ‘I need to write’ keeps nagging me, but there are days when I don’t write a single sentence, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t have the time.
      Wow! I have two free afternoons this weekend.

    • Renette Steele

      Enjoyed your poem. For me it would read a bit different.

      Who’s going to load the dishwasher?
      Why’s the laundry piling high?
      I need to write.
      What do you mean we are out of food?
      I need to write.

  17. George McNeese

    In my college days, I shredded a lot of past works. I didn’t see a need for them. But I always wondered if I could write something better than what I wrote before. Even when they were gone, I still felt attached to them.

    Nowadays, I try to keep what I wrote without feeling attached to them. I know I can produce better work. I’m trying to go away from what I normally write. Branch out to different genres and formats. It’s hard because I haven’t read a lot of different genres, but I’m working on that, too.

    Reply
  18. LilianGardner

    I love and appreciate your post, Pamela. Many thanks!
    My past writing is a ‘scream’ at times. I have to chuckle when I read it over and think, ‘did I really write that stuff?’ Some of it is classy and doesn’t sound like me, and some of it is simple, as if I don’t know better, sophisticated adjectives. I don’t want to shred my writing, but I do want to chuck out a lot of household clutter. Free the room, wardrobes, drawers, surplus cutlery, crockery, kitchen things… but, my husband holds me back. He loves the things that we’ve collected over the years.

    This is a portion of new writing about myself. (I hardly ever write about me, so hold onto your hats!)

    A Fragment of My Life.

    I was seventeen when I told my boyfriend that I love him. I wondered what it meant to be in love, but friends my age could not come up with an answer.
    My boyfriend, I’ll call him Blake, insisted on coming to see me at Christmas time. I tried putting him off since I was spending the vacations at my mother’s home. My mom is a sharp, straightforward woman and can sum up people by little more than a glance. I didn’t want her to meet Blake. Supposing she doesnt approve of him, I thought, then what? Would I dare go against her wishes and carry on dating this guy?
    Well, to cut it short, he rang the doorbell on Christmas day, and brought a big parcel of cake and other goodies.
    I introduced him to my mom and younger sister. Mom invited him into the lounge and asked him if he’d like a cup of coffee. He accepted graciously and insisted I make it. I looked at Mom, who rose to my help, and said she’d make coffee because I didn’t know where she kept the cream and sugar. It was an excuse because I did not know how to make coffee.
    My sister sat at Blake’s feet, looking up at him with adoration and giggling when he spoke in broken English. He was a foriegner and when it was difficult to understand what he was saying, we used sign language. He knew how to say I love you, and whispered it fervently in my ear. My mother overheard and turned down her lips in a sarcastic smile.
    Before Blake left, he took a small box from his pocket, drew out a gold ring with two rubies and a sapphire, and slipped it on my ring finger.
    ‘And what’s that all about?’ Mom asked.
    ‘We’re engaged,’ Blake replied, ‘and one day soon we’ll marry.’
    ‘Who gave you permission?’ Mom asked in a cutting tone and raising her eyebrows.
    ‘Oh,’ he said, rubbing his chin. ‘You mean we must ask you?’
    Mom was put off and said, ‘I don’t know you. How can I let my daughter be engaged to you?’
    ‘Well, I’ll come tomorrow and stay the whole day, if you like,’ Blake said, trying to win her over with a charming smile. He then hugged her and kissed her cheek.
    She shoved him away, straightened her dress and I could see she was in a huff. ‘Hold it Sir,’ she said, ‘I’m not Lilian.’
    ‘But you’re just as beautiful,’ he said with a devilish wink.
    I heard her whisper under her breath, ‘rascal’, but Blake didn’t know what she meant.

    When we turned away from the gate after watching him drive off in the taxi, I asked, ‘Well, Mom, what do you think of Blake?’
    ‘I’d return his ring, tell him it’s over between you, and cut him out of your life.’
    ‘But I think I love him and he says he loves me,’ I said, hoping she’d changge her mind when Blake came next day.
    ‘And you know what?’ Mom said, putting her arm around my shoulder, ‘he won’t come tomorrow.’
    ‘Why? How do you know?’ I asked, my voice rising.
    ‘I saw right through him. He’s a liar, and he’s a married man,’ she replied.
    ‘We’ll see,’ I said, hoping with all my heart to prove her wrong.

    (The second part in the next post to show how the situation turned out.)

    Reply
    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Give us a taste before the next post.

    • LilianGardner

      Will do, Jonathan.

    • korea phil

      This sounds interesting. I hope I can read now the second part to know what happened next.

    • LilianGardner

      Thanks, Korea.
      Where shall I post the second half?
      I’d love for you and Jonathan to read it.

    • korea phil

      Here or maybe in your blog. I will subscribe on it. 🙂

    • Jonathan Hutchison

      Post it here or the blog or both. Let me know when you do.

    • LilianGardner

      Korea and Jonathan, here’s the second part of how the situation evolved. I hope you enjoy it. The language I’m using in dialogue is of how we spoke then.

      When Mom was at work and my sister at school, I paced the front yard scanning the road for Blake, and hoping against hope that he’d suddenly drive up to the gate, jump out of the car and pick me up in his strong arms. It is a scene I lived over and over and turned back to the house to weep because there was no sign of him. Mom ignored my sorrow and did not mention him. I heard her tell my sister, ‘She’ll get over it. She needs time.’
      Two days before I returned to the Teacher’s Training College, a man rang the doorbell and asked my mom if he could speak to me. He introduced himself as Mario, Blake’s friend and colleague. Mom did not invite him in so I went to the veranda to know the reason for his visit.
      ‘Hi! I’m Mario, I’m Blake’s friend. He told me about you and gave me your address.’
      ‘Hi!’ I said, shaking his proffered hand and asked, ‘What does Blake want?’
      ‘He said I may visit you while he is away, and take you out for dinner or a walk or a drive,’ he replied, looking me over with approval, his eyes resting on my bosom. ‘You very beautiful girl,’ he said in broken English, ‘and Blake lucky man.’
      “Where is Blake?’ I asked.
      ‘He must to get married,’ he said. ‘But you don’t worry. He come back next month.’
      ‘Are you joking, Mario?’ I asked with incredulous voice.
      ‘No, no. I not joke. His wife have baby after two month.’
      I looked away, unable to belive how Blake fooled me. Mario broke into my thoughts. ‘You come with me. We go have dinner and dance and then lovely evening. I not married. Promise,’ he said, showing me his bare ring finger.
      ‘Sorry, Mario, I don’t want to go out for dinner. Please tell Blake to go to hell. I never want to see him again. And please don’t you come to my house again.’
      He called the following day, but Mom sent him packing.
      I left for my final year in college feeling distressed at the way Bkake had treated me. After three months in college, while I was walking to town with my friend, Anne, we saw coming up the road. He called me darling and said he was dying to see me. He tried to put his arms around me, but I pushed him away.
      ‘What’s the matter? You not love me any more?’ he asked, widening his green, attractive and flirty eyes.
      ‘Get lost!’ I said, ‘your duty is to take care of your wife and child.’
      ‘That Mario! I will beat him,’ he said through clenched teeth. ‘He is a liar!’ He looked at me again, putting on his captivating smile. ‘I gave you a ring. We are engaged. I see it is on your finger,’ and took my hand to view the ring.
      I snatched my hand away, pulled off the ring, and on impulse, threw it into the heap of pine needles that had collected over the years under the towering deodar tree.
      ‘There’s your ring,’ I said, and watched him scramble on his knees to search for it. It felt funny and Anne and I broke into uncontrolable laughter.
      ‘What a pity you let him go. He’s tall, blond and handsome, and a real muscle man,’ she said.
      ‘There’re many like him in our world. C’mon, let’s go and have fun with the boys at ‘Rickey’s’, I siad, not feeling anything more than pity for Blake and priding myself for ending the friendship.
      ‘I hate to admit that my mom is always right,’ I told Anne, but I won’t tell her how I got rid of Blake.
      Three years later, Mom told me that Blake called on her and asked if he could take my sister out for dinner.
      I don’t know what Mom said to him but I can imagine how she sent him off.

  19. Waqar Ahmed

    Hello Pamela,
    Thanks for this beautiful, encouraging and motivating post. I have been upset with the way I write. I think I write very simple and that my writing lack professionalism. Still, I will try my best to write to the point that it will look like really good and impressive.

    Reply
  20. Renette Steele

    i tend to be a bit of a hoarder. So i have everything i have written, even from childhood, in several different binders. I find it good once in awhile to review whats in them. that way i see progress. Used to be i wrote mainly poetry and usually when i was very low or very happy. I seldom shared any of it. Now i write any time and because i want to. Working on short stories. I admire Sheila’s ability to shred her babies.

    My 15 minutes worth:

    Throwing it all away seemed like throwing a life out. But i didn’t have room for it all, I had to do something with it. Her boys all said it’s just junk haul it all to the dump.

    I sat in the middle of the room wondering what to do with all the years of accumulated stuff. Throwing it all in the trash seemed senseless. It was years worth of somebodies life. Memories that told a story of how they lived and who they were. My mother in law had shard many stories of where she picked this or that up. How her mother had given her a special gift on Christmas from her grandmother. Some things i knew had to be a hundred years or more old.

    Reaching into a box of junk, sorting mostly scraps of cloth, i feel something hard. Wrapped in the material is a small heavy pouch made of leather with beautiful bead work. Now where to you suppose this came from? i ask to myself. Carefully undoing the strings. i pull the leather open. Inside i can’t believe what i see. It sparkles at me like it is winking, beckoning me to look closer. Holding my breath i pour the contents into my hand. Three gold pieces and several diamonds rest in my palm. Checking the sack once more, I find and small scrap of paper stuffed in the bottom.

    The paper is yellowed and brittle. I take it upstairs to better light and ever so slowly unfold it. In the most artistic cursive writing i’d ever seen, i read: This is my will and testament. Being of sound mind, i bequeath all i have to the next generations of the Heise line. Not to exclude and including the line of mixed race. Referring to the Sioux wife and descendants of James Marshall Heise.

    I had heard rumors for years but everyone in the family denied any such connections. When our oldest was born with a full head of black hair to her shoulders, i questioned and was told to never mention it again.

    Reply

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