We All Started Somewhere

Don’t be embarrassed by your early work

I had an amusing conversation on Twitter the other day. When commenting on types of poetry, I mentioned I hadn’t written in iambic pentameter since I was required to in high school.

This lead to me mentioning that I had, in my angsty teenage freshman year, written a sonnet in really rough iambic pentameter, written a sonnet about a gummy worm that was apparently stuck in one of the garish white light fixtures.

Now, that was 17 years ago.

So first, for your viewing pleasure, here is the horrible gummy worm sonnet.

I posted this on Twitter in response to that conversation and spent the next hour asking myself, “Why the hell did I just do that?”

But the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me — I shouldn’t be embarrassed by the silly stuff I wrote because we’ve all got to start somewhere.

I’ve seen writer after writer comment about things that they’ve written that will never see the light of day — here’s 10 of them for you! That’s not a bad thing though.

Everything you write is practice, because writing is a craft that I don’t think anyone ever perfects.

While I might not be publishing a collection of my early work (or any of it, really) it’s still part of my journey as a writer. Everything, all the way back to the story I wrote about a world traveling, tennis playing cat that won me a stuffed animal in Kindergarten, is part of that journey and I’m proud of it all.

Don’t be ashamed of your early work.

Instead, go back and read it again.

Take the new things that you’ve learned and apply them to your old writing. The goal here isn’t to take old work and turn it into something publishable or anything — it’s to see where you made mistakes in the past so you don’t make them in the future.

Learn from your mistakes — any and all of them — and become a better writer.

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