Revitalization IWSG

Another round of Insecure Writer’s Support Group. This time I’ve been thinking about revitalization.

The Official March Question

Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Um…yes and no? “Really old” is pretty subjective. I feel like it’s hard to say yes because I’ve not pulled out anything that existed only on paper. (Though my mom did find a story I wrote when I was 5. It was adorable. But I didn’t feel the need to rework it.)

Dangerous Metal was initially a radically different story. I wrote it, tried to go back and edit it, actually went through and changed the tense and POV for about 75% of the book before I realized that the whole story didn’t work. I finally reevaluated what the story really needed to be about, what was the core of it, what was the conflict, what was interesting. So I sat down and wrote Dangerous Metal with the same(ish) cast of characters and what had been barely a side plot turned to be the focus. What had been the primary plot trashed entirely. What had been the genre trashed entirely. And really pivoted hard. Hard.

I think it turned out really well for the most part. Far better than the initial, which had some good moments, but was still really rough. I’m not a great writer now, I hope to always be able to be a better writer and be able to see that I can be a better writer. But wow was I worse then. I’ve learned a lot of stuff since. And that’s continuing to be true.


Pictured…not me.

I feel like I’ve had several hurdles I’ve manage to climb over (because that’s what you do with hurdles, I mean, you’re supposed to effortlessly leap them while staying low to the ground and maintaining an incredible speed… but when I as not a magician try to deal with hurdles I climb over them). Each time I manage to get to the other side I do better, so I look back and go WOW.

First, characters. This was a long time ago, creating characters-for the most part-seems like the natural thing to do.

Then I spent a lot of time, strangely writing …descriptive things? I once write a wikipedia style thing about an alien solar system, including all the math. That was fun. (I’m not kidding, I quite enjoyed the math and structure that came with it.) Then oddly once it came to creating characters or plot I just went…nah! (And more of these hurdles… boring!)

I think I’ve come a long way, and I can see that what I go back to redo doesn’t have the benefits that present me brings to the table so it is hard to rework some much older things, or things that are significant hurdles ago. Sometimes it is easier to set things aside. I know the times I struggle the most are when I try to rework something that has real deeply fundamental flaws because I’m simply a writer with more knowledge now than I was before. That’s ok. I’d say that’s great. But it does make it harder to rework things.

How about you? Check out what other insecure writers have to say too!


Read what other authors have to say about revitalizing old work or just what other awesome things they have to say!


  1. raimeygallant

    I don’t think I’ve been writing long enough to have something really old to pull out and rework. There’s always my first novel, but I haven’t felt the urge to go back to it yet. I’m much more content working on my new projects. I love your humour, about the story from when you were five, and how you didn’t feel the need to rework it.

    1. Mariah Avix (Post author)

      Thank you! 🙂

      I completely agree about current projects, I know I’m putting the new things I’ve learned to use and I like that.

      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the site for twitter chats.

  2. KT Wagner

    I firmly believe that “writing is rewriting” and it doesn’t matter how old a piece is, if it isn’t working it will benefit from rewriting.

    Unless of course you wrote it when still a child. Those deserve to be preserved “as is”.


    1. Mariah Avix (Post author)

      The rewriting thing is something I do try to do to learn, I just want to finish too! Thank you!

  3. M.J. Fifield

    My mom also has one of those stories from when I was five. I don’t know how adorable it was, but I’ll never feel the need to revise it. The crap I wrote in high school, however, will be another story altogether. 🙂

    1. Mariah Avix (Post author)

      I think all things from 5 year old us’s are pretty adorable.

      Yeah…let’s…high school. I’m really glad that I have had the chance to learn and grow and will continue to do so. Oh high school me…It gets better.

  4. Elizabeth Rose

    ha! Not sure I have anything left at all from when I was 5!

    I did pull out a story I finished back in 2007. At least, that was the last save date. It didn’t completely suck. I actually polished off the first couple of chapters and put it on my blog sometime back.

    1. Mariah Avix (Post author)

      I think a decade is pretty impressive! I don’t know that I’d feel warm and fuzzy toward anything that old. Which makes me wonder how 2027 Mariah is going to look back on 2017 Mariah and just shake her head in disappointment. I mean, yay for growth, but also, you have to start showing at some point or you’ll miss out on opportunities to grow from learning from the responses of others…right?

      If your little ones write things do you stash them away for them to have at 25 or 35? (Don’t show it to them at 15!)

      1. Elizabeth Rose

        My oldest is just starting to write words. Not so much stories yet. She does tell me the stories she makes up for her ponies (she’s a huge My Little Pony fan).

        I should write them down!

        1. Mariah Avix (Post author)

          She’ll get to writing them down soon I”m sure 🙂 A story for little kids is just like 19 words strung together.

          1. Elizabeth Rose

            I will have to ask her to write one!

  5. Arlee Bird

    I like the Dangerous Metal title–intriguing. Sometimes I guess you have to work at something to be sure that it truly works. Any effort you put into a project, whether you use the writing or not, might be considered practice I suppose. That’s how I consider any of my extraneous writing including blog posts or comments that I leave. I usually loved essay questions when I was in school because it was another chance to express myself in the written word–it’s all a form of practice.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Mariah Avix (Post author)

      Thank you! I do like including blog posts in the writing. I know that when I do enough of it I do get better, especially when I stop to consider and get feedback. And considering and reflecting is a lot of what the blog posts I write are. A pause to look back and consider what I’ve done which helps me improve.

  6. Alex J. Cavanaugh (@AlexJCavanaugh)

    You can do all my math for me.
    Often when we pretty much start over with an idea, it turns out so much better the second time.

  7. Damaria Senne

    Hmmm. You’re right. Reworking old work means having to find solutions past the hurdles and that can be harder than writing a story from scratch, because a reworked story comes with built-in weaknesses. I hadn’t thought of that, maybe because I routinely rework stories I put away for a long time. My reasoning is, I try to find the good parts from the story while also plugging the areas that didn’t work in the previous version. But there are stories I have been too hung up on that I have had to later concede that they are not salvageable.


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