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You’re A Bad Writer If…

Self-doubt comes with the territory as a writer. It’s always there in the back of every aspiring writer’s mind. And success doesn’t necessarily dash that all away. So how can you tell if you are an awful writer? Easy. Here are six things to look out for.

#6 You’re happy with your writing….

That is not to say that you shouldn’t be happy with what you write, of course you should…to some degree. Having a critical (and sometimes perfectionist) nature means that you are trying to improve and polish your skills. It’s never good enough. It could always have been better. In this regard, being VERY proud of your work is a tell that your writing is probably pretty bad. No one who’s truly awful seems to realize it on their own. They are very confident in their sh*t…bad writer confident.

#5 You enjoy writing above all else…

All forms of art require blood. No, you don’t need to head to the chicken coop or sacrifice a lamb. That blood’s coming from you, though, and it’ll come in bucket loads. Nothing in life that has value is painless. Not childbirth, not life lessons, not growing up, and NOT writing. Your enjoyment of writing should only be measured, and sometimes outdone, by your utter and total hate for it. You want to stop, you long to grow the balls necessary to stop, but you can’t. You’ll come back to it. Sooner or later, the abusive lover that is writing will slap you side ways so hard you lose a filling…but you’ll come back. You ALWAYS come back. And so your tortured relationship with writing will carry on. If it’s all rosy and short quickies in public places…you’re a bad writer. All art needs polish. Consider that hard work is the sandpaper, and sandpaper f*cking hurts.

#4 Your friends and family tell you, you’re good…

If friends and family are your main support system for your writing, chances are you are a bad writer. And not only a bad writer, but a bad writer who is forcing innocent family members to lie through their teeth constantly JUST to get you to SHUT UP about the writing. They want you to succeed and rarely can they tell you to your face, “Hey, this is really bad.” Of course they cheer you on. That’s what family does. What’s the other alternative? If your family doesn’t want to read you, or doesn’t support your writing, not only is that fuel and extra determination for you to go on, but in some cases, it makes you look within yourself to look for your own value. You don’t depend on others to tell you what you’re capable of.

#3 You’re in love with your characters…

Here’s the thing, being in love with your characters is both good and bad. The good thing is that it means you know them, and know them well, which helps to make them more rounded and less two-dimensional (in theory), but the downside is that you are not able to make tough decisions about them that you probably need to in order to keep the pace or keep the plot moving….i.e. kill them. Okay, killing them doesn’t always involve killing them. It could mean COMBINING them, or getting rid of them from the book all together and giving them their own. When you are in love with your characters, sometimes you have a rough time letting them go. You add them into other stories, or give lengthy backstories for secondary characters who don’t even MATTER. Being in love with your characters could also lead to that ‘clown-car’ effect of having TOO many characters and that bogs your writing down. Look at your favorite TV show writers and know that sometimes they have to off a few people. Gotta lop off a few heads to make a plot work…deal with it.

#2 You correct people’s grammar at random or bash others who make grammatical mistakes no matter how small…

You know who you are.

At first glance, this person looks like they have it together, they know what they are talking about, they are INFORMED. Secret: They are awful writers, insecure about their awful writing, who need to beat others down to show that they have the bigger…writing utensil (brain). Here’s the thing about writers who know their shit, they don’t have to urinate on someone else to get through the day. On top of that, they don’t have time to go around pointing out the mistakes others make, they are too busy agonizing (internally or otherwise) about their own f*ck ups. They are WRITING. They’ve got sh*t to do. Additionally, they know that their own writing is not perfect, and to throw their weight around is the beginning of the end.

#1 You have NEVER received a scathing review….

This is by far the biggest tell ever. You’ve never received feedback so hurtful that it made you want to cut off your ‘spacebar’ pushing thumb? You’re a bad writer. So bad in fact that people consider you hopeless. They can’t even WASTE the time to tell you what they really think. It might also be that you have never shown anyone your work, thus making you a bad writer automatically. There isn’t an artist alive who has never received bad feedback. No one. EVER. It comes with the territory. If you are unable to handle (and sometimes shrug off when necessary) painful, blunt, and sometimes painfully true feedback, then chances are, your writing is stilted and rough. Real feedback hurts. It hurts bad, real bad. It makes you question your life decisions and feel like you want to go swimming with piranha. But it’s a part of the creative process and what you do with it will shape you as you go forward. So if you’ve never been made to ugly cry over one of your works (no matter how small), you are a bad writer. Dat’s just maths.

All of these that I’ve listed are shortcomings that I myself face now and I struggle to overcome. Whether or not you agree or disagree, they are true for me and I hope to one day be able to tick them all off my list. That day hasn’t come, so I guess that means I’ll have to keep at it.