So, you want to write a book. But oh no! “My writing sucks,” you scream in despair, as you toss your computer out the window.
I hope you didn’t really toss your computer out the window. Those are expensive and full of chemicals that are bad for the environment and the people that have to mine them so you can have an existential art crisis mid-first draft.
It is a well-known fact that no writer loves their work all the time. It’s impossible. Who could enjoy everything that comes out of their broken brain?
But you do learn to turn off the “my writing sucks” voice. But how?
Well, that’s what this whole-ass post is about. Let’s discuss.
I Think My Writing Sucks. What Do I Do Now?
Every writer gets to a point where they feel like their writing sucks. Sometimes it does. But that voice in your head, the one that says “my writing sucks” comes up way more often than it should. In fact, it’s pretty common to hear that voice every time you think about your writing.
Lucky for you there are questions you can ask yourself when you think your writing may suck.
QUESTION 1: Does your writing really suck, or are you just in the middle of the project?
We all hit that swampy middle of a novel. That’s where you’ve run out of ideas, or maybe you’ve written yourself into a corner and you aren’t sure how you’re going to get your protagonist to the climax you’ve got planned out.
That doesn’t mean you suck. It just means you need to figure some shit out before you go any further.
Do you need to step back and work on your plotting? Do you need to untangle some threads? Do you need to change a character’s name?
Whatever it is, you aren’t going to figure it out by whining about how much you suck.
There are a billion and one things you can do to get out of your head and back into your story. Figure out what works for you, and just do it.
QUESTION 2: Does your writing really suck, or did you just read something really fucking good?
Every once in a while, I read something and I’m immediately enraged that I didn’t write it.
That doesn’t mean that my writing is bad. It just means that there are some bad ass, hella talented writers out there. This is a good thing. It means there’s a ton of good stuff out there to read and be inspired by.
It’s one of those rising tides lift all boats sort of things. The more writing inspiration I find, the more I write, and the more I write, the better stuff I can create.
But there is that tendency to compare myself to that writing. Which is not fair at all.
All writers have different resources they can pull from. Whether it’s education, inspiration, environment, or whatever, not all writers are created equal. So some writers have had more time than others to learn to do shit that some of us never even thought was possible.
And if we compare our first draft that we’re working on to what they have created and polished over multiple drafts, we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.
Your first draft will never be as good as a published work. Not because you suck at writing, but because that published work has had the benefit of multiple drafts and multiple edits.
QUESTION 3: Does your writing really suck, or are you editing while you write?
Okay. I say this like every other blog post I feel, but I guess this is now the text that will be on my family crest. (Next to a cup of coffee and a handful of Jolly Ranchers.)
Write first, edit later. When you write, you write. When you edit, you edit. AND NARY THE TWAIN SHALL MEET, FRIENDO.
If you’ve got your editor working while you’re trying to generate ideas, you’re screwing yourself over. The editor is great, but the editor doesn’t come up with the ideas. The editor shapes them.
And if you don’t have any ideas, there’s nothing there to shape.
This would be like working out if you were a disembodied non-corporeal entity. It wouldn’t work, and you’d get kicked out of the weight room.
So, when you write, let yourself write. Let yourself get those ideas out on paper. You’ll have tons of stuff to shape up later.
And when it’s time for the editor to come in, all you gotta do is let the writer sit back while the editor does the real magic of turning the idea raw material into an actual story.
This will be a game changer for your self-concept as a writer, your writing speed, and your writing overall.
Oh. My Writing Is Actually Kind of Good. Now What?
So, you’ve asked yourself those three questions, and now you realize you’ve been a real jerk to yourself for no good reason.
Buy yourself some flowers and take yourself out for an apology dinner. Look in the mirror and tell yourself your writing doesn’t suck.
But then it’s time to get down to the hard work of writing.
And may I suggest that you take some time to rethink your writing routine. Because you’ll need to fill the space of hating yourself that you’ve now left wide open.
And when that voice comes back and you can hear it over your writing playlist, you gotta have habits that are louder than the “my writing sucks” that keeps playing on a loop in your head.
Because guess what…
That voice never goes away. You just learn to ignore it. You learn that you don’t have to listen to it because you know the questions to ask. You learn how to work around it so can stop hating yourself, and start writing more.
Does Your Writing Suck?
Do you struggle with feeling like your writing sucks? How do you get around it? Which published work made you believe that you’d never write anything good? Have I convinced you to stop editing while you write yet?