Yeah, I know. I just stated the really, really obvious.
But it’s so true. Even if you’ve got a story laying around that you’ve given up on, that you haven’t touched (for whatever reason) in a long while, it’s a good idea to go back and revise.
You don’t even need to finish the damn thing. You can dust it off, polish it some, and then chuck it back into storage. I know that seems wasteful, but–and I’ll exemplify this in a moment–this isn’t really being done for the audience’s sake. At least, not the audience of the work that you just chucked back into storage. Or into the garbage.
I say this because I just took a look at that story I randomly put up. “Fight or Flight”. It kind of sucks, I realized, with the help of another semester’s worth of writing instruction. I’m not publishing the story. I don’t care that much for it to be perfectly honest–it was an assignment for class, or something.
The point, though, is that revision, especially when done after a long break, can teach you about writing. By going over a less-than-ideal story, you can learn alot about how you write, and about what tickles your creative fancy. You’ll note common grammar mistakes, bigger structural flaws, and problems with character. It’ll all stand out because you took the time and effort to once again go over your own piece of fiction.
So, do that!