On Writing: Looking Back and Appreciating How Far You’ve Come

Recently, I completed my final project for my Adolescent Literacy course this semester. In January, my professor presented us with the task of tapping into our core belief and compiling a visual essay in IMovie to present that belief to the class.

My core belief is simple: I believe in the power of creative expression in the form of writing.

I completed my first novella when I was eleven years old. There’s something to be said about my passion for writing being part of me for so long, and I couldn’t fathom who I would be without it, now.

Writing has acted as my grappling hook in many situations, to pull myself across the chasm of fear and doubt. Writing has allowed me to expose the hidden elements of myself and others, in order for me to process my reality. As cliche as it sounds, writing has been my light in the darkness on many occasions.

With that said, this project required that I include images that would correspond to my core belief. I don’t necessarily have a photographer with me to capture the candid moments of my writing sessions, but I had an idea of where to look for a starting point.

My Wattpad Profile – 2012

Ah, Wattpad.

I owe so much to my growth as a writer to this platform. I have so many fond memories of the way my heart would leap at the sight of a new vote, or a kind comment from another member of the writing community. Book clubs on Wattpad were my favorite way to engage with others, while giving and recieving votes, comments, and feedback.

My first story that was published on Wattpad was titled, “Remember Me”.

With 685 reads, I can only imagine how “fame” must have looked for 12 year-old me. But as I scanned through the 11 chapters and epilogue, I had only one thought: this is terrible.

Littered with plot holes, spelling errors, a lack of character development, and countless other mistakes, I was left with many questions. Why did I think this was good enough to publish on a public platform? How did I not recognize how much work the story needed? What was I thinking?

The answer is simple: I didn’t know any better.

To 12 year-old Brandi, the story was fantastic. I probably couldn’t wait to share it with the world. My enthusiasm and passion for writing had launched me across the finish line, to type “The End”. And that is a HUGE accomplishment.

It doesn’t matter if your very first story is terrible. It doesn’t matter if your first ten stories could never be released into the public eye. What matters is that you’re growing as a writer.

In reading through the stories on Wattpad that are more recent, I was able to recognize my own growth as a writer.

Where Breaking Emily caused me think, “Brandi, no…”, I would think of Scavenger, “This isn’t half bad.”

I never would’ve imagined that I would be capable of writing the novel that I’m working on now. I know for certain that 12 year-old Brandi would be extremely proud.

So, as cringeworthy as it may be to look back on your past works, I encourage you to do so! I’ve included a few things to consider on your trip down memory lane, and I hope that you will find yourself with the motivation to keep growing yourself as a writer in the future! 🙂

1. Remember why you started

Why did you choose to start writing? Personally, I made the decision to write my first story because of the plethora of ideas that were floating around in my head. I craved the feeling of bringing characters to life, regardless of whether or not I knew what character development was at the time.

2. Inspiration

What inspired you to write this story? I often compiled ideas from the strange and fascinating dreams that I would experience as a child. As I grew older, it morphed into my own experiences and desire to explore new things.

3. Finding your rhythm

One of the greatest feelings of being a writer is being able to explore different genres and discovering what fits with your writing style. On Wattpad especially, I’ve played with writing paranormal romance, science-fiction/fantasy, poetry, and YA contemporary fiction. In the future, I’m hoping to dabble in the art of mystery.

4. Seeing yourself in Your characters

When reading my past works, I can easily recognize pieces of myself in my characters. As we change over time, so do the characters that we create. If you’re looking for a snapshot of your past self, pay attention to your main characters and what they have to say.

5. Your ghosts and your triumphs

Apart from the characters, occasionally, the plot can mimic your experiences at the time of writing. A perfect example of this is my novella, The Art of Abandonment. I wrote this novella and its series of letters as a tribute my past self and my broken friendship, to encourage the final part of me to stop holding on. Read through your struggles, and celebrate your success.

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If you’ve recently read through your past works, feel free to share in the comments what your takeaways were and how it played a role in shaping your view of yourself as a writer in the present! 🙂

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