Ok, so you’re a writer. You’ve just finished writing a book or a short story or maybe even just a chapter of your latest work in progress. Adrenaline flows through your veins as you print it out for the first time and place it on your desk. It’s your baby, your beloved, your life, and it’s right there in front of you all in paper form. You stare at it, feel the weight of it in your hands as you inhale the luscious scent of fresh ink set on a wad of new paper. It’s beautiful. It’s all you’ve dreamed of. You sit down and you start to read.
Oh God no.
No… it’s… it’s terrible!
Sound familiar? Trust me, you’re not alone. Almost every writer feels like a bad writer at some point in their life. Most of the time, it’s completely unjustified, but no matter how much you tell yourself its all in your head, there’ll always be that little nagging voice at the back of your head telling you to give up.
Well, ladies and gents, I’m here to tell you that voice is completely full of it. Honestly. If that voice was a person, it’d be that weird uncle that always tells you about his wild adventures running from the CIA or that one time he was hired by the Mafia to run errons… yeah, it’s that full of it.
But, if you’re anything like me, no matter how unreasonable you know that voice is, you’ll still get disheartened; you’ll still feel like it’s all not worth it. So, I’m here to give you five pieces of reassurance that’ll keep you battling that voice during those tough times. Because there’s nothing more reassuring than receiving advice from a complete stranger on the internet, right? Right!
You’re Comparing it to Other Authors
Chances are if you’re a writer, you’re probably also an avid reader. Like most readers, you’ve got a preferred writing style. You might not notice it – a lot of people don’t – but almost every reader will be drawn to a certain type of writing. Maybe you like fast paced books. Maybe you read books that have shorter sentences. Maybe you like books with flowery wording and intensive world building. No matter what kind of reader you are, you’re always drawn to a certain type of writing.
But did you ever think that the reason you’re criticising your writing so much is because it doesn’t fit in your preferred reading style box?
Most writers will compare their writing to their favourite books, but there’s a hazard to that practise. The more you compare, the more similar you get and the more similar you get, the worse it is for your writing career. Yeah, it might sound fantastic to you, but sounding like another author is an instant no-no from not only readers, but agents, publishers and editors alike. Having a different writing style from what you normally read isn’t just right, it’s sought-after by publishers. So, before you put on your critical eye and go over your writing, make sure you’re not looking at it from the eye of your favourite author first.
You’ve Given it… What?… A Day?
Every professional author knows that reading through a piece straight after you’ve written it is a cry for bad editing. Not only does it mean you’ll probably skimp over a lot of the mistakes, but it can also mean you’ll pick up on a lot of mistakes that aren’t really there, too. This doesn’t just mess with your head, but it can be disastrous for your writing project, too.
The best advice? When you’ve written something, give it at least a day’s break. If you find you’re still being too harsh on yourself, give it a week, maybe even a month before coming back to it. Not only will you find it easier to read it from a reader’s point of view and pick up on inconsistencies more easily, but you’ll also find a lot of your doubts about your writing will disappear, too. Remember, nothing is a disaster beyond fixing. Nothing is worth giving up.
There are Successful Writers Who are Worse Writers Than You
Yeah, that’s right. I’m going there.
Believe it or not, it’s not all that difficult to get published these days. With publishing platforms getting bigger and bigger and a lot of them moving online, it’s really never been easier to publish a book. With a few dollars and a click of a few buttons, basically anybody can get published, and although this is usually a little alarming for most writers, it can also be a source of comfort for you, too. Because, yeah, with the amount of published writers out there, there’s always bound to be a few just…. terrible books for you to find. Funnily enough, there are also a lot of terrible books that’ve done pretty well financially, too.
So, if you’re ever feeling down about your writing, pick up a terrible book, read through it’s cringey dialogue and disastrous plot devices and let yourself think: well, at least I’m not that bad. Trust me, it works.
Most People Will Never Write a Book in Their Life
There was an old survey in America a few years back that showed that about 80-90% of Americans think they have a book in them. It’s common knowledge to most serious writers that almost everybody thinks they could write a book if they had the time or the patience or… whatever other excuse they can think of. But chances are, they won’t. Chances are, these people will never in their life actually write, finish and publish a book.
So why are you so hard on yourself? You’ve written something, for god’s sake! You’ve taken time out of your life and you sat down and you hand typed every damn word that you’ve printed out. Every single one of those words are yours! Do you know how impressive that is? Compared to the rest of the world, you’re already a rarity.
Calm down, put that critical thinking had down on the table for a second, and just let the reality of it all sink in. You wrote something. And what you’ve written, you can always fix!
Edit! Edit! Edit!
This should be a given, but to a lot of people it’s not. When you finish writing a book or a chapter or… whatever it is that you’re writing, your work is now ready for editing. It’s not just ready for editing, but it’s waiting for it. It needs it. Every single piece of work needs an editor, no matter how good that person might be at their craft. First, you self-edit. Go through all the things you think you should be fixing up. Then, send it out to other readers and get their opinions on it and finally, send it out to a professional.
These are the steps every single writer goes through. Don’t skimp out on them and don’t expect to have to skimp out on them! No work is perfect and no work will ever be perfect until it’s had an editor’s eyes on it – a few editor’s eyes in most cases.
You’re not a bad writer, you’re an unedited writer!
So, if you’re ever feeling down about your writing, remember, you’re not alone. Oh and also the Fifty Shades of Gray books are making billions of dollars and getting movie deals so there’s always hope for you.
Now stop procrastinating and get back to writing!