Hey, Your Writing Sucks

Let me explain.

When I first decided to pursue writing seriously (as in put my all into something that might not give me any return) all I wanted was someone to tell me that I was making the right decision. I didn’t know if I was good enough at writing to make it my career choice.

My entire way of thinking was wrong, but I’ll get back to that.

What I actually needed was someone to tell me my writing sucked. Because it did, and hey sometimes if I’m in a hurry it still does. (I’ve had to delete a few blog posts due to my hastiness.)

Pretending someone is better at something than they are is detrimental to their growth, especially while learning a craft. My biggest pet peeve in workshops are when people are so nice that the person whose work is getting critique thinks that their work was great…when it needed a lot of work. I don’t think being rude is the answer, but I think being kind while being honest is.

Which doesn’t happen a lot to young writers. Which might be surprising, but this is my own experience, it could have been different for you. Throughout my college workshops everyone was too scared to point out the flaws in a work, and when they did it was done so nicely that it was more of a ‘maybe you could change this, but you’re fine if you don’t.”

Once, a professor stopped me from commenting on the grammar of a short story. The entire story was atrocious, but I was trying to nicely point out that the grammar was so bad it was hard to read the story. (And to be honest grammar isn’t on the top of my list to criticize.) I overheard the student later boasting about how much everyone in class loved her story. Because we weren’t honest, she saw no need to fix her story.

I kind of wish someone had told me, “hey, your writing sucks.” Not to be cruel, but to push me. I don’t believe writers are born wordsmiths and it’s just natural to them, I believe it effort and hard work. When I was younger my writing sucked (I see that and wholly accept it now) but because no one pushed me to be better it took a lot longer for me to grow and become a better writer.

You suck at writing until you don’t. And I personally believe it’s a long road, but if you accept the fact that you haven’t written your best work, and you truly love writing, then it’ll push you because you’ll want to get better.

Before, when I wanted someone to reassure me that I was a good writer and making the right choice, I was setting myself up for disappointment. It isn’t that we should want reassurance of our skill, because skill is learned. What we need to be sure of is our love for the craft itself. If you aren’t willing to put a lot of time and energy into writing and strengthening your skill you won’t get a better result.

Now, writing as a hobby can make you a better writer, I’m only saying it will take longer. That’s fine, but if you call yourself a writer and you’re pushing toward publication, you need to continuously push yourself to get better. Don’t look for reassurance (it usually comes from people who don’t know what they’re talking about.)

It comes down to what most people will tell you- you yourself have to be your own motivator as a writer. And yes, that is one of the hardest parts of writing.

Don’t believe that you’re a great writer, believe that you have the willingness to be a great writer.

28 thoughts on “Hey, Your Writing Sucks

  1. True. I think nostalgically about some short stories I’ve written and think, man, that was a good one. Until I later go back and re-read them. I did that recently to a few stories and, it’s not that they were bad, the stories were from a very immature writer. As you grow and learn, it’s good to go back and see exactly how much. Those stories were written more than ten years ago. I’ve changed. My worst downfall – passive language. It is my nemesis!

    At any rate, I used to suck. Not much has changed lol. Except, like you said, willingness to accept that I’m not a natural born word-killer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh man. I’ve looked at some of my old poems from when I was like 14…and well I had to stop myself from burning them. I like to have them as a reminder that I’ve come a long way way, but still…not always fun to read. I have a short story that at the time I wrote it I thought it was so funny. Yeah now, when I look over it I just wonder what I was thinking. lol

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, very true – and honest! Writing is a hard slog, draft after draft, no recognition, killing ones darlings, getting sugary compliments of little value, putting a manuscript aside for a couple of months then going back to it and saying “Wow, that certainly needs tidying up”. It’s a never ending process but a worthwhile one. A friend asked me if I was doing it for the Likes and I replied “No, it’s because I just have to write.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • “getting sugary compliments of little value” yes, exactly. As much as I love my mother and her encouragement is appreciated, I know that she’s only doing it so I feel good about what I’m doing. It doesn’t help much in the long run.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Being told “your writing sucks” sucks indeed. Although my tendency to write in rush and post the things which are often requires cold eye the other day, I wouldn’t get further without the practise. Kinda funny because my English lecturer never gave me any positive comment about my pieces, also critique the way I share the ideas. Anyway, everything you said is brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The best professor I ever had at college earned that title because she took the time to tell me what was wrong and what I really needed to improve on. It was A LOT of work, specifically a lot of re-writing essays to make them the best they could be. Sure, it wasn’t fun but she helped me improve more than I ever thought I could (or thought I ever needed to haha).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for a reflective and oh so true post.
    You wrote, “I kind of wish someone had told me, hey, your writing sucks,” in my case I knew that way before I started my blog, after all it was only supposed to be so my family would know what was going on at my remote cabin. However like many things in life outsiders started to visit and comment and before I knew it it was no longer a “family” blog. In looking back over the years even I can see a transformation in my writing from absolutely terrible to tolerable, proving if one keeps at it just maybe their writing will improve.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. i find this a big problem, in that i don’t know what to say – either i get to be the Big Meanie, or i let them skip off, boasting about their skills. I used to do the slush pile at a big publishing house. I was trained at uni both to give and take good crit. To really help the writer, not to bring them down. I’ve tried saying politely a book or piece needed more work “nice idea, but for a children’s picture book, 140,000 words seems excessive”, and been abused, because their FB friends, family, and spouse said it was great. One woman even sent me the same book, 4 months later – because she believed it was great and ready for publication, and i was sure to see her talents on a second look. I’m so happy when strangers put a Like on my blog or a nice review on my books – i know it’s not just because they’re being nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah that’s got to be tough.
      To be honest it was always easier for me to write the critique out and then give it to them, and in discussion let it go. That probably wasn’t the best approach! Lol


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