Repurposing Old Writings

I was looking through the files on my computer today in an effort to see what could stay and what could be banished to my desktop recycle bin. I have a lot of old documents that are no longer needed, so a good cleanout was long overdue.

It was then that I came across some old writings, which had been written in the spur-of-the-moment and then promptly buried and forgotten about. Most of them were not “stories”, in the conventional sense, but ideas, passions, or thoughts transcribed – things that had quickly and chaotically been written in a flurry of inspiration. And although most were riddled with errors or lacked any kind of structure, there were a few fragments that I found interesting.

One story in particular was so evocative and different in style that I found myself wondering, “Did I write this?” It was unlike anything I had ever written before and the voice was that of another me. However, I have no doubt I wrote it because I remember doing it. I remember where I was and when.

It was early in the morning, perhaps five o’clock. The sun was creeping through the cracks of my curtain blinds. The birds in the tree opposite my bedroom window were announcing to the world another day had begun. Sleep deprived and delirious, I sat cross-legged on my bed and pounded away at my laptop’s keyboard. I would only break from my stream of consciousness to flex my aching fingers. I didn’t think, I just wrote. It was a rare burst of inspiration I rarely encounter.

Once finished, I had no intention of expanding the story or even editing it. I left it in a file on my computer untouched for over a year and a half. I think the story has potential, so I have decided to revise it into something more concise and readable. Some fragments, stray sentences and thoughts disconnected from the whole, can be repurposed elsewhere.

Like many writers, I have many text fragments and unfinished stories. Many, I can see, could form the foundation for an exciting new short-story or thought-provoking novel. The potential is there; the flame just needs to be stoked into a fire.

I believe many writers would benefit from taking a look at their old, discarded writings. If you took those fragments and expanded them, what would you get? Writers have a million ideas a day, and a thousand half-formed ideas written down. It may be time to take those scraps and make them into something better. If now isn’t the right time, don’t throw them away. You never know when you might need them.


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