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Re-visiting Your Old Projects: It can give you more than you realize

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Do you write things and forget about them. I do!

Typically, I don't find a lot of reasons to revisit old projects, finished or unfinished. I think for the most part it's because they were never developed much beyond a few thoughts. You know when you say I'm going to write a story about, fill-in-the-blank, and what seemed like a good idea at the time, never materialized into a good story line. Or, maybe the project was for school or work, and served its purpose at the time it was written but has no valuable purpose now.

My advice: Never. Delete. Old Writings. Ever!

We had some dear friends come spend four nights recently with us, and while we had a really great time, we also had a lot of conversation. One conversation got me referencing an old essay I wrote for a Public Administration after Graduate School, graduate course. I actually took the course to fulfill extended learning credits requirements for my teaching license renewal. But I loved the course just the same.

As a tech teacher, I often find myself defending technology by pointing out the good and listing the ways in which we also use technology to ferret out bad actors online and bad use of technology for nefarious means. Yes. We do use good technology to fight bad use of technology.

Anyway, that was part of our discussion. So I started on how we do that and ways in which we could do it more for even better purposes, such as how advancing AI can be used to make better political and legislative decisions (the crux of my grad course paper). My friend said, "I'd love to read that paper." So I told him I'd send it to him.

I also told my friend that I had to get special permission to write the paper as it did not exactly fall into the parameters set by the professor for our final papers.

With permission granted I set out to write about a bunch of political stuff I previously had little knowledge of (but I guess that's sort of the point of researching for papers).

After the paper was submitted, my professor naturally graded it and wrote to me letting me know it was an A+ paper, but he also told me to get it published. I never did.

As I dug the old paper (written in 2017) out of my drive I noticed a few glaring grammar issues and fixed them promptly. After-all, I didn't want my friend thinking I couldn't write a graduate level paper without applying proper grammar (which apparently I had done okay for the most part).

But then, I took some time to re-read the paper.

It was amazing! And, if I do say so myself, quite cutting edge at the time. No wonder my professor encouraged me to publish it! But what's more, is that I found myself feeling very proud of the amount of work I put into it and the level of research I had done to complete it.

The essay truly IS good, and now it means more to me because in looking back I realized I was a really good writer then and I'm a better writer now because I wrote that paper.

I think there is value in re-reading your old projects, papers, HS or college essays.

It helps us remember where we've been and how much we've grown. But most importantly, it reminds us of how good we really are as writers. And, if nothing else, it can be a fun ride down memory lane.

And you never know, those old story ideas may really have relevance today or you may become re-ignited to work it through or re-work it now that it's been a rest for a while.

Writing is a process of running, stumbling, falling, getting hurt, healing, and then getting back up again to run some more. Those old stories or project ideas are a part of the journey.

You may also be interested to know, the essay is now self-published on this website.

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