07 December 2018

Tossing Away Old Writing Notebooks - My Refreshing New Start

Today, I went on an exhibition to organize. It comes in waves for me, but this time was different. It all started when I came across old collages I made during high school and early college years that I would put in the front and back of binders. The hobby faded when I stopped subscribing to magazines, but these old collages remained stuffed in a weathered tote bag, unseen for years. Today, I decided to toss them and felt a pang of remorse, but almost immediately felt relief.

Then I came across a bag filled with notebooks and loose notebook paper filled with stories, freewritings, ideas, and character sheets. Quite a few were from high school (I couldn't help but wince at those.) Many were from early college years, which - let's just be honest - weren't that much better than the stories from high school years. And as I read through this huge stack, I knew it was time to let them go.

I tossed away character sheets and several chapters from a novel idea I had about people living on a street called September Drive (there were many versions of this novel and nothing quite clicked for me). I tossed away notes from the fantasy novel I wrote in high school (there is still many pages from this world I created somewhere in my closet). I also tossed away illegiblle story scenes that were aimless and unfinished. I tossed away short stories I wrote for class taught by a teacher who refused to let us turn in genre-based writing. I threw away the unfinished novel from that same year in college when I tried NaNoWriMo the first time (I tried reading it and couldn't even tell you what it was about).

Like with my collages, I felt bad about tossing these. Then when I got started, I realized how much I needed to do this. Was there a time that I would read through these stories and use them for inspiration? Maybe. Yet, I know I won't look back with regret and wonder what came of these scraps of myself as a writer, because I am ready to grow and move on. 

I recall reading writing advice from somewhere that said if you want to try and finish a story you left undone years before, start the story fresh. I agree with that advice. 

I still look at notebooks for inspiration, but I realize that the notebooks I use for inspiration now are more recent reflections of who I am as a writer. Maybe 10 years from now I will go through my notebooks from my late twenties and early thirties and wince at my failed attempts while smiling at my endless determination. 

Even as I say goodbye to this old version of me as a writer, it's still proof to me that writing will always be something I am pursuing. I love telling stories. It's a love and desire that God put into my heart before I even knew how to read. Today was proof of that and also proof I'm ready to let go and grow.

Do you hold onto old notebooks and stories?


  1. Every once in awhile a purge of that nature needs to be done.

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  4. I sense this was extremely satisfying, you have given me inspiration to clean up my messy office - one that would make a hoarder's nest look tidy...

    1. It was!!I couldn't believe how easy it was for me to let go of these things too. I thought I'd hang onto them forever and then I realized how unusable and unreadable these notebooks were at this point.

  5. I agree about starting over. I wrote a story 15 years ago, and I was completely different than what I am now. I'm also a much better writer now than 15 years ago.

  6. It's so refreshing to start anew. A good clear out always helps with this. I hope you feel invigorated.
    Gemma @ www.gemmasbooknook.blogspot.con

  7. You remind me that I need to have a sort out. I am terrible at throwing things out.

  8. A new start is always good. I'm not a hoarder, I'm more of a throw everything out and then regret it later kind of person.

  9. Oh I have a bunch of those and I am like you in not wanting to throw them away. But they do occupy too much space and they are memories. I just clicked photos of those and then threw SOME of them.

    Gayathri @ Elgee Writes

  10. Organizing! I should try that, someday.


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