Never Look Back
I’m going to admit that, aside from needing to check a quote or make sure of details when writing a sequel, I almost never go back and read my old work.
Maybe (probably?) a lot of writers are this way. For me, it’s about not tangling my brain up with wishing I’d written something differently or mentally hanging myself over mistakes. I figure if I think it’s good, it probably isn’t as good as I remember, so re-reading it will only shatter my illusions. And if I already know it’s not very good, why go back and chew my heart out over it? Better to just keep moving forward.
I’m the same with watching myself on screen. I have videos . . . somewhere . . . of my stage work, but I’ve never watched them.
Jackson Browne has a line in his song “These Days”: Don’t confront me with my failures, I have not forgotten them. And so I don’t confront myself any more than I’d want others to. Maybe that’s cowardly. But hopefully I’ll have learned from previous mistakes* and my writing will get better as I go along.
*Provided I don’t keep making the same mistakes again and again. Continuing to write is not enough; progress comes through change, not through doing more of the same.