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The power of revisiting your old writing and learning from the past

If you’ve ever written content in the past, there’s a chance that you’ve eagerly opened one of your old pieces to refer to your earlier work.

Perhaps it was a blog you carefully constructed to explain a complicated subject, or even a post you crafted to uplift your business’ social media presence.

Whatever it was, when you first opened the piece, you may have been hit by a wave of embarrassment and cringe. Personally, the first thought that often crosses my mind when I read my old work is, “What on earth was I thinking when I wrote this”?

No matter how good it was at the time, my old work usually has me wincing at the clunky sentences, peculiar word choices, and flow that resembles a rollercoaster ride.

While this initial reaction to your old work can be somewhat humiliating, it is actually a positive sign, as your discomfort signifies your growth as a writer. It shows that your writing has evolved, and you’ve developed a more refined eye for creating compelling content.

Taking the time to re-read your old writing from time to time is also a powerful tool for improving your current content. Continue reading to discover why this is the case.

1. It gives you a fresh perspective on your old work

When you’re meticulously working on a piece of writing, you can spend hours carefully crafting the structure and making on-the-spot decisions about word choice, all to create a stellar piece.

Though, since you’re working so close to the project at hand, it’s easier to miss the bigger picture.

Much like a fine bottle of wine, time can often improve the quality of your writing – it’s incredibly helpful to take a step back before giving it a final edit.

So, if a 10-minute break helps you detach yourself from a piece of writing, then it stands to reason that a much longer rest, such as a year or two, would have the same effect.

When you return to your old work, you approach it with a brand-new set of eyes. No longer are you consumed by the anxiety that often accompanies perfecting a piece.

Instead, you can take a step back and objectively assess its strengths and weaknesses. This newfound perspective can help you identify areas for improvement you might have missed in the heat of the moment.

2. It can reveal how much you’ve grown as a writer

There’s little doubt that constantly writing does come with an unhealthy dose of self-doubt.

While you may notice smaller, more incremental improvements as you write, all it takes is one bad bit of feedback and you can feel as though you’ve taken one step forward and two steps back.

If you can relate to this, you may find it incredibly beneficial to revisit your old work.

By doing so, you will personally witness how much you’ve grown as a writer over the years, demonstrating how hard you’ve worked to be at the level you are today.

This awareness can be exceedingly motivating, as it’s tangible evidence of the progress you’ve made. Seeing this growth first-hand can boost your confidence and inspire you to keep pushing yourself to be a better writer in the future.

3. The distance from your work could help you identify issues you previously missed

When you’re embroiled in the writing process, it’s remarkably easy to get too absorbed in a piece and find yourself bogged down in the details.

As you’re trying to produce the best piece of writing you possibly can, you may fall into the trap of becoming far too attached, making it a challenge to be objective about areas of potential improvement.

Even if you take a step back from a piece of work for a few days, some of the thoughts and ideas may still linger in your mind.

However, there’s a good chance you won’t experience this with some writing from a year or two age. After reading it, you may start noticing more and more areas where you’ve strengthened as a writer, further bolstering your confidence.

There are some key things you should do to make the most of your re-read

Ultimately, when you read your old work, it’s essential to have a positive mindset. Rather than self-flagellating and focusing on how bad your work was, you should instead view it as a learning experience and celebrate your progress.

Of course, there is no objective way of determining whether your writing was good or bad, but there are some key things to do if you’re to make the most of your re-read – read on to discover these strategies.

Compare it to your current work

If you’re still writing pieces today that are similar to those you used to, comparing your old style to your new one can be invaluable.

You should pull up an old piece alongside something you’ve written recently and take note of how the language, flow, and overall structure have changed.

This side-by-side comparison can demonstrate your progress and serve as a visual reminder of the countless hours you’ve poured into honing your craft, fuelling your future confidence.

Understand why your work improved over time

After re-reading your work – perhaps with a wince or two – it’s vital to understand why it got better over time. It’s one thing to read it and feel good about yourself, but it’s also essential to learn from your past.

It may be worth asking yourself some questions regarding your progress, such as:

  • Did I take a new approach to the way I write?
  • Did I change the way I take on feedback?
  • Did I discover a new author that influenced my writing?

By identifying these turning points in your writing, you can gain insight into how you improved over time, potentially creating a mental roadmap regarding your continued growth.

Identify areas where you believe your old writing did work

Even though most of your old writing may make you cringe slightly, you shouldn’t dismiss the piece entirely.

In fact, you may actually notice areas of your writing that still hold value to this day.

For example, perhaps you were more adventurous back then (at the cost of substance) and wrote flourishing phrases that, with some refinement, could add a certain spark to your current work.

You shouldn’t be afraid to repurpose these hidden gems into your work today, as they could act as a springboard for fresh ideas or a reminder of the approach you once took.

Get in touch

As you can tell, improving your writing over a long period can be a mammoth task. If you don’t have the time to perfect content of your own, then our team of experienced writers has you covered.

Email us at or call us at 0115 8965 300 to find out how we could help bring value to your business.

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