Then vs Now: How Far You’ve Come

by | 8 March 2019 | Writing | 22 comments

Comparing yourself to other people is never a good idea. Either you get proud and think less of them, or you get depressed and think less of yourself. Neither is a good state of mind, needless to say.

However, comparison isn’t always bad, if you compare to the right person.

For example: your past self.


I love comparing my current skills to my past skills. It shows me how far I’ve come. How all my work and learning and time spent is actually paying off. It’s so encouraging to see how far I’ve come.


So today I’m going to have a bit of fun looking at some older pieces of writing in comparison to newer, as well as some early drafts vs edited drafts. But before I start: don’t read this post and compare your writing with mine. That defeats the point. Instead, see the difference and be inspired, then go check out your own progress! 😀


A Sprig of Green

I’m going to do a full draft 1 – 5 comparison with this one, and because I don’t want this post to be a million years long, I’ll just go with the first two sentences of each draft of the novel.

You’ll notice the first sentences of draft 2 – 4 are fairly similar, but with slight changes. Draft 5 has my favourite beginning so far. 😍


I scrub some of the dirt from between my fingers, trying to ignore the furious beating in my chest.


My arms sting with small nicks and scratches from the hours of scrabbling through the ruins, but all for nothing.



The sunset casts a golden glow over me, lingering like the dream of laughter.


I scrub some of the dirt from between my fingers, trying to ignore the furious beating in my chest.



The sunset casts a golden glow over me, lingering like a dream of laughter.


My shadow stretches out ahead of me, so small and still compared to the pounding in my chest.



The sunset casts a golden glow over me, lingering like a half-forgotten dream.


I quicken my limping pace and glance over my shoulder.



If anyone asks, I don’t exist.


My mother never had a child, my father married again after her death, and his new wife and two stepdaughters are the whole world to him. Ace and Venys Glyn are just an ordinary couple with ordinary children just like anyone else.



First Fantasy Novel Ever vs Most Recent Fantasy Novel

This comparison spans an even longer amount of time than the last one, and it’s not from the same book. The first snippet is from near the end the first real book I ever wrote/finished (many years ago), and the second one is the final moments of my latest fantasy novel (June last year). Two fantasy stories, and a huge difference. (Thank goodness.)


(Cringiness warning 😛)

These were my friends and I thought of all we had done together and then I realised what I’d come here to do. It was not to save the country, or to save the Prince, soon to be King. Love, it was for love. In my family there was no love for each other. But now I would go back and bring it. I would change my family, and we would be like a family should be, with love for one another.


If I could rescue a Prince, save a country from tyranny and be the heroine of my very own story, surely I could do that.


“Well. This didn’t end how I thought it would.” My breath catches again as my leg buckles.


Valerie grabs my other arm, linking her arm around my elbow and supporting some weight. “This is the part where I drag you inside to see the healer.” Her smaller hand slips into mine and her lips curl upward. “Or should we ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after?”


“Dragons bad breath, spare me,” I say, and roll my eyes for extra measure. “Please no.”



After skimming through half a dozen old books, I have to say it again: it’s so nice to see the improvement over the years. 😅


I’d love to see your personal comparisons! Do you like comparing yourself to your past self? Chat with me in the comments!

Jane Maree

Jane Maree

Jane Maree is an Australian writer, adventurer at heart, beloved daughter of the King of Kings, and believer in at least six impossible things before breakfast. Raised on fairy tales, scraped knees, and makeshift swords, she has yet to outgrow any of them. In her day job, Jane teaches music and freelances as an editor, but by night she crafts daring stories of broken heroes overcoming extraordinary odds.


  1. Merie Shen

    Fun post! Comparison is probably one of the hardest obstacles to overcome in a writer’s journey– to me, at least. I love seeing the differences between your drafts of the same book. I don’t even want to think of my own differences right now. xD

    • Jane Maree

      Absolutely! It’s so hard not to compare with other people. I know I definitely struggle with that. ❤

      Thanks! It was so encouraging to see the difference. 😅

  2. Gray Marie Cox

    A thousand times YES to this post!!
    My mom use to say that comparison was the thief of joy and I think it’s so important to remember that before you lose yourself in an endless cycle of never feeling good enough or like you’ll achieve your goals.

    Lovely post, Jane. <3

    • Jane Maree

      That’s so true! It’s so easy to do it, but so important to remember NOT to do it. I wholeheartedly agree.

      Thank you! 🥰

  3. C.L. Farrelly

    Yay no more first sentence about the weather/sunlight. As much as I like sunlight that is a wayyyy better fist sentence.

    Love seeing the comparisons here and seeing you grow into a more skilled writer!

    • Jane Maree

      Yes, the weather forecast has been changed. 😛 I loved it as a sentence, but maybe not the best first-sentence hook.

      Same! It’s so good to see improvement after all these years. 😆

  4. Evelyn Kelly

    Oh wow! This was a great post to read! And I’d say you’re making progress. 😉

    (And thanks for being willing to share stuff you ain’t proud of. 😛 Wow. Good job to you. xD)

    • Jane Maree

      Thanks! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. 😊

      Haha, it’s a bit cringey sometimes, but for the most part I’m okay with sharing it because I know I am improving and I also know that everyone has to start at the beginning. 😛

  5. Nicole Dust

    Oh my word, I was so not ready to read “If anyone asks, I don’t exist,” after reading tons of first sentences about nature. XD I love it so much more, though!

    • Jane Maree

      Thank you!! 😄

      I have to take a little moment to admit how immensely pleased I am with the new first sentence though. 😍 I’d been hooked on the dreamy sort of style of the previous drafts until a new idea came and smacked me in the face and I love it so much.

  6. Sam Kowal

    I love this idea. Comparing one’s writing to another author’s can feel like climbing a mountainside and never reaching the peak.

    But if you look at your past work, you can say “Ohh. Ouch. Yep, I’m definitely getting *somewhere*.”

    Will I be the only one to miss the “sunset like a dream of laughter” line?

    I must admit, Draft Five’s first line grabs one’s attention with greater fervency.

    But ‘dream of laughter’…it was so poetic😭

    • Jane Maree

      Exactly! Comparing to others is the opposite of healthy encouragement, but seeing how far you’ve come is always a good reminder. 😉

      You won’t be the only one! I do really like it, and I’ll hopefully use it somewhere else. But not as the first sentence. 😛

  7. Catherine Hawthorn

    Seeing the progression of A Spring of Green was super awesome 🙂 I have to admit, I love that first hook the best out of them all, but the last one really is potent….

    I too love seeing progression. Reading old material is always fun 🙂

    By the way, Tes let me know that you were inviting old members back for April’s Camp NaNo. You can count me in the Fellowship 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you all!


    • Jane Maree

      Thank you!! 😀

      It’s good to go back sometimes, isn’t it. Particularly if you can laugh at the old mistakes. I love laughing at my bizarre sense of humour in my first novels. It’s so random! 😂

      I’d love to have you!! If you make a project and set up your cabin settings (select the top option), I’ll be able to send you an invite! 😊

      • Catherine Hawthorn

        Indeed it is! I find it funny at how ridiculous some of the stuff that my characters get into and how immature their emotional reactions are 🙂

        Okay – project is announced and the cabin settings should be right 🙂 I’ll see you soon!

        • Jane Maree

          Yess. A couple of years can turn almost anything into a comedy if you look at it right. 😆

          Yay! I’ve sent you an invite! 😀

  8. Kendra Lynne @ The Wanderling

    The first lines of ASoG draft 1-4 were good, but you nailed it in draft 5… in my own personal opinion. 🙂

    I like to go back and read old blog posts and compare them with my present ones, and although I haven’t reached perfection by any means (who can?), I still have improved a ton. 😛

    Great post!!

    • Jane Maree

      Ahh, thank you so much! I’m so much happier with the beginning of draft 5. I liked it before, but now it feels just that much stronger and more true to the context of the story.

      Haha, yes! I always cringe and laugh when I read my old posts. Maybe one day I’ll read some of these posts and see how much I’ve improved since now! 😮 There’s always more room to grow, isn’t there? 😉

  9. Mem

    THIS POST WAS SO GOOD. :-O And wow; your ASoG snippets. AMAZING. <333 I can't WAIT to read that book. ;-D I definitely like comparing myself to my previous self. It is always so much better than comparing myself to others. XD

    • Jane Maree

      Ey, thank you, Mem! 😀

      ASoG has come soo far since the first draft, it’s crazy. I can’t wait for the day when you’ll be able to read it! 😉

      Self-comparison is almost the opposite of comparing with others, and it’s great! I always get encouraged by doing it too.

  10. Steward

    Thanks so much for this post, Jane! I definitely fall into the comparing self to others and getting depressed category, and not just with the quality of work, but with the progress as well. It’s easy to see others pump out draft after draft and feel ashamed of my sketchy plotting scribbles, and forget how far I’ve come and that there is progress, even if it seems slow.

    I do the same with my spiritual growth as well, getting discouraged because I still struggle with doubt and impatience. But when we get caught up in our flaws, we fail to see the beauty of God working through us every day. Reading old journal entries is encouraging in this case. 😉

    I love the ASoG comparisons! Funny how so many of us have had first sentences that have to do with sunlight. xD And goodness… I love Prince Kal!

    • Jane Maree

      Absolutely! It’s also important to remember that the people you’re comparing to…also compare to other people and feel down about their work and certainly don’t feel like they’ve got it all together. Everyone is at the stage they’re at and everyone always has much further to grow!

      That’s a great idea! I’ve never really thought about reading old journal entries in that way.

      I know right?? I think weather-related sentences are a little too common. 😅
      Thank you!

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