I spent all day recently rewriting from memory a children’s story I had written years ago, because I could not find it on any of my computers. The next morning I found a printout of the original story and made a huge discovery. The rewrite was way better than the original.
I analyzed why the rewrite was so much better than the original. For one, I’m several years older and have never stopped learning new details about creative writing. In addition, whenever you write something and set it aside for a while, you can almost always find ways to improve it in the next draft. In this case I “set aside” the entire story, even the typing of it, but never mentally forgot the story. I’ve probably been mentally improving that story for years, without actually writing down any of my own suggested improvements until I tried to reconstruct it from memory. The new version has a much better increase in tension and suspense and the final sentence is a hundred times better. It even brought tears to my own eyes, even though I knew the story through and through.
Have you ever considered rewriting an entire story from memory and then comparing the original with the rewrite? The exercise might result in a huge improvement over the original. Have you ever had to rewrite something from memory and then had the opportunity to compare it to the original? Tell me about the results.