Recently I was talking with a friend who was considering deleting his weblog and starting all over. Tossing his archives into the trash, changing the domain, and re-focusing on the sort of writing that he most wants to do.
His premise was that a new domain and new “brand” would help set the tone for the new voice he wants to write with. And that by trashing his archives of the work he’s written so far, there will be nothing on his new site which he’s embarrassed about. Nothing juvenile or off topic.
I told him he was being silly and then linked him to this article by Zeldman where he writes: “If your old work doesn’t shame you, you’re not growing.”
Looking back at past work and cringing means you’ve grown since then. (Thank goodness!)
I read through my old software reviews and interviews from time to time and though I’m still very proud of them, I also cringe at my massive lack of a grammatical style and my goofy tone.
And then there’s the super-random posts from when I first started writing here. Like my article about mullets (really, Shawn?). I could take them out because they’re pretty off-topic with the now-established nerdy tone of shawnblanc.net, but I leave them in there because they are a part of this site’s history and who reads the archives anyways?
The desire to “start fresh” and get rid of all your old work so that nothing in your archives is of any embarrassment is to assume that your best work is now at a plateau and that you’ll never move to a different interest or topic to write about.
If you think you’ve reached a point where you can create work that never makes you cringe again, then you’re saying that what you do today will be just as good as what you do next month, next year, and in 5 years from now.
And, well, that’s just not fair to your future self.