What to Do When Your Writing Sucks

Carol Tice

Freelance writer worries her writing sucksWe all know what it feels like to read brilliant writing. It draws you in, awakens your emotions and leaves you feeling alive with personal revelations. Most of all, it changes you for the better.

So what happens when you read your own writing, and it doesn’t quite rise to that level?

Some writers will say, “I know I can do better.”

But too many will say, “This isn’t good enough, and never will be. I should just give up.”

This is the moment when self-criticism becomes unhealthy and debilitating to your career. Your writing is going nowhere because it can’t get past your toughest critic — you.

As a writer and new blogger, I’ve been there. I know negative thought patterns will always creep their way into my consciousness and threaten to shut me down. In order for my career to survive, I’ve learned how to become a freelancer writer by developing a few techniques to help turn my harsh self-criticism into constructive learning and growth.

Reflect on past work

When I was writing my first pieces of content for my creativity blog, I felt I’d turned out a couple of gems, and quite a few lumps of coal. Nothing I’d written sounded right. My personal style wasn’t visible, and I couldn’t hear my own voice in my writing.

But one piece I’d written, a personal essay, made me smile. I could hear myself loud and clear in it — and could feel the passion behind my words.

“What’s different about this piece? What makes it so great?” I asked.

Answering those questions helped me learn which writing style and type of content works best with my personality and skill set.

Trust in your value

One affirmation always drives me forward when I’m struggling during the writing process: What I am saying — the message I am delivering — is important.

Some works of art are meant to be created and shared with the world. In his memoir, Stephen King likens the fiction story to a fossil waiting to be unearthed by the writer. If you trust that your story is meant to be heard, it will find its way out.

Every little bit helps

Brilliant writing doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of practice and dedication. Look for the good in your work and realize that not everything you write needs to be published.

These days, when I write something I’m not crazy about, I simply tell myself, “This was great practice. I’m honing my writing chops.”

Just keep moving and watch your writing evolve into what you always knew you were capable of.

Then one fine day, you can look at your work and say without hesitation, “Now, that’s some damn good writing!”

What do you when your writing sucks? Tell us in the comments below.

Ivy Shelden is a freelance writer and blogger. You can read more of her work on Medium. Her passion is helping creative people reach their potential.

76 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Cooper

    ive had many days where I feel my writing stinks. I tend to be very hard on myself especially on my writing because I’m very passionate about my work. I try to take every negative thing I say about myself and make a positive. The first step is not letting yourself bring your writing down because you believe your not good enough. You have to believe in yourself!

    • Carol Tice

      Or…just stop saying negative things about yourself. Be your own biggest cheerleader. You want to pull that negative self-talk tape out of the deck, shred it, and replace it with one that recognizes there is no one else on earth who can write it like you.

  2. Italfilam

    I’ve just written an eBook, a simple one, but every time I go over it I find loads of mistakes. I edit and re-edit. I re-read and all the same, more mistakes. Geez this simple eBook will never reach its publication stage! What I do? 1)I troll my hero writers (one of them is the creator of this site) and study their work. 2)I wake up early in the morning when my mind is fresh and research how to make my writing better. I pinpoint where my weakness lies and work on it, like I have an issue with clarity, I nag Google to find me ” how to write with clarity”. 3)I only not study my heroes’ writings but also random works of various bloggers. Did that blogger turn me on or off? If on, I’ll apply his/her style in my writing, but if off I’d avoid those aspects that made me turned off.

    • Carol Tice

      Sounds to me like a situation where you need to hire an outside editor. Even if it’s just a journalism student, or you trade services with another writer — some people just can’t proof their work.

      And what you want to do is press ‘publish’ on that ebook as soon as possible, so you can move on to the next project. So if you’re just going around in circles, it’s time to get help. I’ve hired a pro editor on all the ebooks I’ve done, and it’s well worth it.

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