What to Do When Your Writing Sucks

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 developed 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. She is the founder of Wide Open Mind, a support group of sorts for creatives. Her passion is helping creative people reach their potential.

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