A few days ago someone told me their writing sucked. I had to explain that this was the proverbial Good Thing.
All good writers think what they’re doing sucks – and this is what drives them on to get better. It happens because of the inevitable problem of turning the perfection of concepts into something mundane – the written word.
The danger comes when writers think their writing doesn’t suck – when they get complacent. Or they don’t critically self-analyse – ‘unconscious incompetence’ – leading them to think what they’re doing is great.
Writing is all about pushing boundaries. Always. Writers never stop learning. If you think your writing sucks, it’s because you’re aware. My advice?
1. Look hard at what you’ve written. Does it suck? Yes? Good. Figure out why. Be critical. What is wrong? Is it structural? Stylistic? Do you need to re-cast the emotional impact? Think hard.
2. Re-write, if necessary from the beginning.
3. Re-read it. Does it suck? OK, repeat steps 1 and 2.
4. Stick it in a drawer for a while.
5. Pull it out of the drawer and re-read. Does it suck? Yes? By this time, though, it probably doesnt, and so…
6. Get a beta reader to check it out. Listen to what they have to say.
Bottom line? Self-awareness, being self-critical, and pushing those edges – in short, thinking your writing sucks and then doing something about it – is what turns mediocre writers into good ones – and good writers into great ones.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2013