Trying to build a professional portfolio, when you’re a writer, can be an absolute nightmare. Especially if you’re doing what you should be doing when building up your repertoire of writing samples – writing as much and as often, for as many different pubs as you can.
That’s what I’ve been up to this week – organizing a portfolio with only a selection of all the work I’ve done in the past six months. When you’re only showing off a fraction of what you’ve managed to accomplish, ideally you want to highlight your best stuff. Which means you need to find it.
Which, as you probably guessed from the title, means sifting through a lot of material, and usually, rereading a lot of things you barely even remember writing.
I’ve been reading through a lot of old words. Articles and blog posts mainly, since that makes up the majority of the writing-related things I’ve been doing lately (that I write for the internet, anyway). I don’t think we do this enough – look back at the progress we’ve made over time.
I wonder if we’re afraid to look back, or if we’re told not to because, unless you’re using it for constructive or motivational reasons, it can potentially be a waste of time. If you don’t wait to revisit it, that is. I don’t necessarily feel the need to go back and reread any part of the book I just finished in October, for example. But who knows. A few months, a year from now, I might.
Looking back at things I wrote a long time ago is an unpredictable experience. I never know how it’s going to make me feel. Will it just be a major cringe session, or will I actually be able to sit back and try to figure out how I came up with that one joke that just made me laugh out loud?
I think in January, when I will have hopefully finished the book I started writing during NaNo, I want to take a break from fiction writing and go back to read even older projects I’ve worked on in the past. I like to look at how my voice has developed. My dialogue skills especially (I get better and better with every new story, which is a relief, because it’s never been a strength of mine).
But that means I have to finish my current book first. ASAP. I’m only about halfway through the second of three parts and I’m struggling lately.
I WILL KEEP GOING.
Do you ever go back and read any of your old stuff? Do you find it helpful or harmful? I think it depends on the day for me. Sometimes it’s a confidence boost. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t bothered.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.