When Writing Reminds You You’re Not Very Good At This (Yet)

You’re not quite “there” yet, and that’s OK.

When I have a free 15-minute window at work — a short break from doing my own research and writing my own articles — I do my best to read as many of my colleagues’ articles as I can.

There are some pretty amazing writers at our company. Every once in awhile, I’ll read one that makes me think, “Wow. This is so good. I’ll never be able to write anything this amazing.”

Which isn’t true, of course. As part of the production division of a media company, we’re constantly working together to build each other up, help each other grow, and improve our writing and editorial workflow week over week.

Each writer has their own style, and all of us have been writing for different lengths of time. It only makes sense that some pieces seem more polished and well-structured than others.

We forget it’s okay not to be “the best” all the time, you know? We, the over-critical, self-conscious creatives who just want to do a good job.

As writers, we all encounter almost daily reminders that we’re not as good at this whole writing thing as we’d like to be — yet.

Whether it’s reading someone else’s blog posts or a published book — listening to the unsolicited criticism of your work on Twitter or watching everyone else at your job get promoted except for you — there are days it can feel like you should be doing better by now.

But what is “better” really? Because it doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and it’s not something you can achieve in a day.

In fact, many successful writers spend years, even decades writing before they “make it.”

Just because you haven’t “made it” yet doesn’t mean you never will.

Keep in mind that though there may only be a set number of destinations for an aspiring writer, there are hundreds of different routes to getting there. And even those on the same road to success as you might not be traveling the same speed as you are.

Everyone has a different timeline. It’s like peeking at someone else’s grade on a math test. Just because they got a better grade than you doesn’t mean you won’t also work your way up to an A eventually.

Just because you’re not writing as well as you want to or in the niche you want to or at the career level you want to right now doesn’t mean you won’t get there at some point.

You might feel like you’re just not a very good writer. And that can be extremely discouraging, especially when you feel like your hard work isn’t paying off.

But that could just be because you’re comparing yourself to others — trying to fit your own personal timeline into their mold. It doesn’t work like that. The stuff you’re writing right now is most likely some of the best stuff you’ve ever written. You just can’t see that from your very limited, self-critical perspective.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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8 thoughts on “When Writing Reminds You You’re Not Very Good At This (Yet)

  1. Quick question about reading other’s work. I find that I’m like a sponge. I absorb other author’s style… not their words or ideas, just their tone and wordplay… if I’m not careful. That’s why I find it difficult to read while I’m intently writing. Suddenly my character starts morphing into something else entirely, which means backtracking, deleting, and re-writing.

    Do you have any advice on how to consciously curb this? I love reading and want to do more of it, even while writing!

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