Isn’t It Time You Moved On?

I wasn’t really in the mood to work on the book last night. It had been a long day and I was tired. I forced myself, however, to open my laptop and start editing. The chapter in question was one of the first I had written, some six months ago. I knew it would need a bit of renovation as I feel my writing has improved since I started this journey. The early chapters, I find, require more scrutiny with regards continuity, structure and plot development.

As I read it my heart sank. The words just didn’t flow. The plot was full of holes and as for the quality of the writing? Well, let’s just say it wasn’t one of my finest literary sessions. I began to despair as I read over one particularly clunky segment. How on earth was I going to turn this pigs ear into a silk purse? Surgical intervention was urgently required in order prevent my literary aspirations from flatlining beyond resuscitation.

Then it hit me. Or rather I hit it. The delete button that was. Rather than spend hours attempting to save the poorly paragraph I just pulled the plug. I removed it in its entirety and started writing afresh, but this time from the stronger position that six months additional writing afforded me. This meant I had a much clearer idea of who my characters were and where the story was going. The result was a much improved passage which I knew fitted into the overall story arc.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that in real life? Hit the delete button on the less glorious parts of our lives? The seasons we would rather forget about, which leave us squirming with embarrassment? The cruel words spoken that we cannot take back. The selfish actions that we cannot undo. The memories that we would much rather see discarded on the cutting room floor as opposed to playing on an endless loop inside our heads.

Unfortunately we can’t. Or even if we could, should we? Those bloopers and own goals might not make our personal highlights reel but they have contributed towards who we are today. I have realised that becoming a good writer involves a lot of bad writing. Believe me I know for I’ve churned out some shocking stuff that will never see the light of day. But I’ve learnt from it and improved as a result. Any worthwhile process requires a little pain.

We can’t rewrite our pasts but we also shouldn’t beat ourselves up over them. Stuff happened. Stuff that we need to deal with and move on from. If we are continually looking over our shoulders at what is behind us we are more likely to stumble and fall over what lies ahead. Learn from your past, yes, but use the negative as a positive, and then let those sleeping dogs lie. Some bridges are meant to be burnt. Applying a scorched earth policy to the past has its merits.

I seriously need to practice what I preach with regards this topic for I am a master of wallowing in self pity, navel gazing and doom mongering. So this post is written for myself as much as for anyone else. The ghosts of the past will haunt your present and poison your future if you allow them to. It’s time to pack away those toxic toys for you were born for better than that. You were born to live and to thrive. That time is today so cast those chains aside and choose to do so.

Freedom comes at a price. You have paid it. Cut the cord and unshackle those chains. How can you remain a prisoner to your past when you hold the key to the cell door in your hand. You are your own self imposed jailer. Isn’t it about time you handed in your resignation letter and chose a new career path? One more fitting of your many talents. It’s your time. It’s time to move on. All you have to do is take that first step.

Do you dwell too much on your past?

How do you propose to move on?

34 thoughts on “Isn’t It Time You Moved On?

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  1. Wowza!!! It’s amazing how we both posted something similar today. I strongly believe that the devil wants us to keep wallowing in the ocean of our past in order for us to loose sight of what is ahead of us. It isn’t easy to do. However it’s something we need to choose to do daily. Unfortunately there is no better way to put it. I had to reach a point where I had to choose between staying in the ‘it isn’t easy zone’ and do away with the self pity and pity from others which I was enjoying, to accepting the fact that this zone was not doing me any good. Accepting this made me make a decision to cut that cord of pain and forge ahead with life.

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  2. Yes, you can’t rewrite your past. It’s done and finished with.

    Sometimes pressing the delete on writing can create a sense of a fresh-start, but it is a good idea to inter that stuff that you think is so crass in a digital coffin.

    All writing is rewriting and, sometimes, the corpse of our unwatnted scribblings can learn to walk again. With help and surgery.

    Mike

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  3. I did exactly this around with my degree dissertation about 3 weeks ago. Had eight months work in it, but nothing made sense and it didn’t flow at all. Mostly due to the stop start way in which I had been trying to complete it, plus the fact it was half hand written and half on the computer due to issues with my health. So deleted the lot (though must admit deleting files is not as satisfying as ripping up reams of paper.) 106 pages, 23,000 words later it was handed in a week before the submission date as it just flew out of me.

    As to real life I try not to let my past effect me. Learning from my mistakes. Remembering the good times. Doing the best I can each day, and looking forward to the future.

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  4. An amazing post. When in counselling this passed winter, I learned how to let go of the past. I dealt with the issues hanging around but I was great for gnawing over things that happened and seeing where I could have done better, said things differently. Which drove be crazy. I learned that when the images start to play again, I stop, take a deep breath, and say out loud ‘Jay, it is done. What is said is said. What is done is done. You cannot change it. Stop thinking about it.’ And I consciously put it out of my mind. I have used this with great success more times than I can count. 🙂

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  5. “I have realized that becoming a good writer involves a lot of bad writing” – Great point!!! Keep pressing on. I’ve heard many successful writers share similar sentiments. You are in good company 🙂

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  6. Amazing writing. I love how you transition.

    Anyway, for me, I know my mind is contempt to stay in familiar territory (settle, so to speak). Because I’m comfortable, God has asked me to step out and actually grow up. I’m scrambling around trying to find my footing to plant firmly. So it’s this trust thing God keeps asking me to do. Whoa! It’s pretty scary. But to step forward into what god has for me I need to take a leap of faith and see what happens. It’s that trust thing again, God ask of me, plus I did say I would surrender to him. Letting go of the past is one of them.

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  7. But the thing is, you CAN re-write your past. Your past exists only in your memories. No, you cannot erase your mistakes or the bad decisions you may have made. Those are all part of why life is the way it is for us now. But we can interpret our stories in whatever ways we wish. We can cast ourselves as the hero of our story or as the victim. The choice is ours. I choose to write my past as an epic tale of struggle and triumph, and yes, some defeats (temporary set-backs, I like to frame them). We can choose to tell whatever story we wish, and interpret it in a way that moves us forward instead of keeping ourselves stuck. Cheers & happy editing. I know I am happy we have the delete button for our writing… some embarrassing paragraphs never have to be shared while others… well, let’s just hope people can forgive us for being the imperfect humans that we are.

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  8. I try to remember that the less glamorous parts of my life from my past and even the ones I am currently struggling with give me the opportunity to be a better person. To be kinder and gentler and a more understanding grace giver. I also realize that my struggles can actually be helpful to other people. Because if I’ve made it through them somehow, they can to. I can share hope.

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