As a Writer, What Are You NOT Good At?

You’re not good at everything … sorry. :(

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I think we’d all love to say we’re good at everything we do, especially when it comes to writing. The problem is, you’re not good at everything. As a writer, though, it can be difficult to figure out exactly which areas you can improve on, and how to do that. Here are a few things you can watch out for in your own writing.


What part of the writing process makes you procrastinate?

Psychologically, we procrastinate most often because we’re avoiding something we’re not looking forward to. For me, it’s research. If I have to write 10 listicles on topics I’m less familiar with, I know it’s going to take two hours to write one article instead of one – and that makes me put it off. I’m not good at that kind of research, and I don’t enjoy it enough to practice on my own. It’s a weakness. I’m not proud of it, but I’m willing to admit it’s a problem.

What about you? Do you worry about coming up with names for characters? Do you find it hard to create realistic conflict? Do you just struggle with writing things the way they sound in your head? All these things can silently persuade you to put writing off until the last possible second. That’s one way to know what you can improve on as a writer.


What do other writers do that you wish you could do, too?

I’m getting better, but I’m not nearly as good at crafting metaphors as many of my favorite writers are. Technically, even though I started out writing fiction, I’m much more practiced on the more technical, straightforward things. Reading John Green novels is both a joy and a pain for me – his prose is just so good. It would bother me that I can’t write like that, but it’s more of a motivator for me to work on my own style and adding a little color and flavor to my fiction.

This isn’t about copying someone else … it’s more about technique. In some ways, comparing yourself to other writers can be helpful, as long as you use it for inspiration and not to tear yourself down. When you read something, and your first thought is, “Wow, I wish I could write something like that,” you can use that to spend some of your writing time focusing on that particular area.


What do you rush through – or what takes you the longest?

This can go two ways. Either you rush through a part of the writing process just to get it over with, or you end up spending way more time on it than you feel you should. This can be another sign you need to work on a certain technique or skill. Editing is a good example of this. Either you skim through your drafts to catch any errors or you have to plan out extra time to go through sentence by sentence – and either one isn’t good use of your writing time.

A simple fix for this is to either force yourself to spend more time on something or train yourself to do it more quickly. There are only so many hours in a day, and it’s a combination of quality writing/editing and better time management that helps you make the best use of the few hours you may have.


What are you “not good” at in your writing? Is this something you want to improve on? How do you think you can get better?


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

What to Do When You Don’t Like the Way You Write

Don’t like it? Change it.

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No writer is perfect. Yet our writing flaws, whether imagined, exaggerated or real, have a way of causing us to question whether or not we’re really cut out for this whole writing thing. You can probably think of one or two things about your writing that you wish could be different, or better. But how can you go about making those kinds of changes in your writing life?

Here are the steps you can take to ‘fix’ the things about your writing that you aren’t particularly happy with.


First, figure out what it is you don’t ‘like’ about your writing

What is it about your writing that makes you want to curl up into a ball and forget the internet ever existed? Is it structural – your grammar and spelling, the way your sentences fit together? Is it your diction (choice of words) – do you struggle to word things the right way or use too many ‘big’ words where you shouldn’t? Do you just not like the way your writing ‘sounds’?

All of us have at least one perceived flaw in our own writing style. I switch awkwardly between refusing to use contractions and using too many, within the same blog posts, all the time. But being able to identify the things you’re not happy about is the first step to improving upon them – and a really good step, too. Once you know what it is that’s really bugging you about your own writing, you can then take further steps to start to “fix” it.


Set writing improvement goals

Set writing goals? Say what? Don’t pretend I haven’t covered this a hundred times already on this blog. You have to set goals to see improvement (which requires achieving those goals). You might not like the idea of holding yourself to a promise you aren’t confident you can keep. But would you rather challenge yourself by setting yourself up to improve, or continue to loathe a certain aspect of your writing that continuously makes you not want to write anymore?

Setting goals to improve is a little different than setting completion goals. Improvement goals are far less tangible than completion goals. Instead of setting a goal to finish writing your novel by the end of July (a completion goal), you might set out to write more actionable blog posts (an improvement goal). How do you set these kinds of goals? Check back for tomorrow’s post. For now, just know that changing what you don’t like about your writing is going to involve goal-setting. If you’re not good at that, it’s going to take some work. Be prepared.


Try a writing course

Whether or not you might consider signing up for a writing course or workshop really depends on your goals. Some writers work better under conditions that force them to focus on a specific task, such as free writing on a specific prompt. Some writers thrive on feedback, and critiquing others’ work while having theirs looked over is both motivational and genuinely helpful. Some writers just want to do it all on their own without help, and that’s completely their choice – nothing wrong with that at all.

Is it worth paying money to become a better writer? That’s really up to you. I’m putting together a list of free online writing courses for those who want to give more formal writing guidance a try without having to spend. Writing classes are not for everyone. I enjoyed my writing courses in high school and college for what they were, but I’m the kind of writer who under-performs under pressure, so for me, this probably wouldn’t be a worthwhile move. But it very well may be for you, if you’re really struggling and need someone to help you get back on track. Or get onto a track in general, if you have yet to find one.


Be patient and just keep writing

I’ve been writing for a very long time; I still have plenty of room to grow and improve regardless. Everyone does, no matter how long you have been a writer. One of the many reasons I write as often as I do is that the more I write, the better writer I become. I learn to catch myself when I start to get sloppy or too wordy. I know my bad writing habits and get better and better at crushing them every single day. Even in the past six months I’ve seen growth. It can be frustrating when you don’t feel like you’re doing a good job … but you’re never going to do a better job if you just quit trying.

Writing more frequently, consistently, also boosts your self-confidence. The more comfortable you are with your own voice and style, the easier it gets to trust yourself and believe you’re doing a pretty decent job. Many aspiring writers, especially early on, have issues with confidence. Don’t let uncertainty stop you. Let yourself grow into your potential and believe in all you are capable of.


Despite everything, try not to compare your writing with other writers’ work

We all want to feel like we’re good at what we do. Even more so, we want external validation. We want someone else to say to us, “Wow, your writing is super awesome.” Maybe they will, and maybe they won’t. But if they never did, how would that affect the way you view your own writing? Are you unsatisfied with your work internally – understandable – or is your issue more external?

Comparing yourself to other writers, excessively, does more harm than good. In the end, the most important thing when evaluating your own writing is that you focus on how YOU feel about it. Do you really not like the way you write … or are you more concerned with what other people think? Are you more bothered by the feedback you get (or don’t get) than your own perceptions of your work? If you are happy with what you are writing, then you don’t need to worry quite so much about ‘fixing’ the way you do things. It’s OK to want to improve. But don’t try changing your style to appeal to someone else.

If you don’t like a specific thing about your writing, only you can take steps to change that and strengthen your own weaknesses. But if you think your writing is acceptable, and it’s others’ opinions or greater successes that are shaking your confidence, remember that the only way to trasform things that cannot be changed is to change your attitude toward them.


What don’t you like about your own writing? (Think of what you don’t like, not about what other people think/how other people react.) What do you want to try and do to improve?


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

What to Do If You Can’t Find Someone to Give You Feedback

It’s actually a misconception, thinking that the only way to improve as a writer is to get feedback from other writers.

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What do you do when you can’t find someone to give you feedback on your writing?

A lot of things, actually.

It’s actually a misconception, thinking that the only way to improve as a writer is to get feedback from other writers. Sure it helps, but as we went over last week, it’s not very easy to find (people are busy, etc, etc). Here are a few ways you can continue to improve on your own, while you’re searching for individual feedback (which will be the topic of another post coming to you later this week).

Read, read, read

Want to be a better writer? Read. Seriously. If you want to blog better content, read more blogs. If you want to write better stories, read more books. Content creators are inspired and motivated to improve by viewing the work of other content creators.

You may not be able to find someone who can give you individual feedback on your work right now, but much of what you write is in some way going to be inspired by others regardless. Make time for exploring what’s already out there. Look at the work of successful writers. Study it. What about it has made it resonate with so many people? Apply what you learn to your own work.

Decide what “good” or “successful” writing means for you

Every writer is different. Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. Reading others’ work, you might be able to come to identify your own advantages and shortcomings when it comes to writing. But basing your skills on the work of others is only a starting point: it shouldn’t be your only metric. You have to decide, for yourself, what you want to achieve as a writer.

Do you want to clear up misconceptions about a specific topic? Help someone solve a problem? Tell a great story that makes people feel all the feels? Good writing isn’t measured just by whether or not your words make sense. Set a specific goal, something you want to accomplish in your writing, and focus on achieving that goal with every post and page you write.

Honestly, just keep writing

It’s unsettling, writing without knowing whether or not it’s “good.” But at a stage where you’re not getting the feedback you want, to be honest, it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. At this point, the best thing you can do is to just keep writing.

You will get better over time if you just keep going. Because eventually, if you’re consistent and you gain experience and just keep doing what you’re doing, you will find that source of feedback you’ve always wanted. It may not be exactly what you imagine, but it will come.

Shoutout to ssunshine14 for asking such a great question last week! We’ll be doing at least one more post related to feedback coming up soon, but if that doesn’t help, you are all welcome and encouraged to ask more specific questions in a comment, on our Facebook page or via email.

Tell us: how do you measure whether or not you’re improving as a writer? Are you dependent on feedback (not at all a bad thing if you are), or do you have another source?

Image courtesy of marketingland.com.