Going through computer files is kind of like spring cleaning. You work hard, get carried away by little things, and find some long forgotten treasures. In my case, old writings. It’s fascinating to see what my writing was like a few years ago, even a few months age. I love to compare and contrast, seeing how I have evolved as a writer.
A very wise piece of advice I once read, while still in school, still holds true to this day. The writer advised never to throw out anything written. Sometimes, it seems like a waste. The writing stinks and you want to delete. HOLD off! Wait a few days. Let it ferment. You may come back with a different perspective.
What to do with first drafts:
Use it for personal needs
I wrote a thank you poem for a client. After reviewing the first draft, he decided that a letter would be more sophisticated. I wrote the letter, got paid, ad forgot about the poem. It was buried somewhere in the deep recesses of my email. Eventually, a friend asked me for a thank you poem. I had something ready to roll on the spot.
Use it for guest posts
When you do a major revision of an article, keep the first draft. You may want to use it. I wrote an article based on presumed guidelines-a short blurb where I read about the site. When I went and actually checked the site, I realized my first article would not suffice. I copied and pasted, and the article underwent a seismic shift. The revision was published on the website I submitted. I then took the first article and sent it in as a guest post, gaining some free publicity and encouraging comments.
Use it for queries
A first draft of an educational article that got published in a magazine, became a full query for a parenting website. With a few minor revisions, it landed me another well-paying job. A college lesson plan was revised for an education company, who bought the idea.
Use it to start your next writing
I recently found an old writing notebook, from before my wedding. I resuscitated an article I had started on professional development, and sent it to two markets. I landed an article with one.
Keep your writing! You never know what you can do with it!
Kaila Weingarten, MS Ed is a NY mom of two little girls. She works as an educator, freelance writer, but her number one job is wife and mother.