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Bad Writing and Imposter Syndrome

‘I suck at writing’ – Writers

Now don’t get me wrong, some people are naturally confident with writing, but sometimes even the best of the writing community struggle with self doubt and imposter syndrome.

There might be all sorts of reasons why you’re feeling imposter syndrome, and those questions you need to ask yourself is specific to you and you alone, but it is a much more universal feeling then we give it credit for, and there are definitely some similarities we can talk about.

First things first, just because you think you’re a bad writer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. It can be hard to view our own work without bias, or without being overly critical or pessimistic, that’s why it is so important to give up.

You heard me right, give up. At least for that moment. Take a walk, have a few days distance. I remember when I was writing my book, there was one paragraph I was really beating myself up about. I took a writing break for a few days and came back to re-read it, and to my surprise, it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be!

As well as that, while we do need to make our own decision about things, getting a second or third perspective from writing groups, other readers, writers, friends and family, can help you view your work in a new way. Just make sure the people you approach are constructive with their criticism. Hearing criticism can be very detrimental to our self esteem and belief in writing, but constructive criticism is never ill-meant. It’s there to help you improve. Best to stay away from people who claim your writing is ‘stupid’, as if it’s a fact, and refuse to provide any reasons why or suggestions for improvement. But criticism of your writing is not a criticism of yourself, even if it feels like it.

Perhaps it’s a case of being brand new at writing. You can’t help but compare yourself to the likes of Shakespeare, George Orwell, or any of your favourite authors, and you end up thinking, ‘What’s the point of getting started?’ Here’s the thing. Everybody was a new writer once. And no matter how naturally good they are, they will have had their fair share of writing troubles as well. You’re not going to like my advice here, because it is so obvious. Practise! Get constructive feedback from the people we’ve mentioned before! Take a creative writing course! Even if you can’t afford a paid creative writing course, YouTube can offer a wide range of creative writing courses for free.

Maybe you feel like the actual act of writing isn’t a problem, but the content you produce is so boring, there’s no way in hell anyone would want to read it. Ask yourself, what type of books do you read? Do you read the same genre of book? Do you ever read any other genres? It might be worth reading a different genre of book and seeing if there’s a style of writing within that genre that excites you, because if you’re writing the same thing over and over again, there comes a point where you start to get fed up with the same plot structure, or the same manner of twists and turns, and that can reflect in your writing if you’re writing in a similar genre. Readers can tell when a writer has mentally checked out. I don’t know how, but we just can.

Also, feedback. Again. The one way to tell if your writing is boring, is to ask people if it is! It may also be worth asking them if there’s any advice they might give when starting out with a new genre, or if there’s anything they suggest with making writing more exciting to read or write.

There is the issue of procrastination, which you might find yourself leaning towards. If it is, I actually wrote a whole article on procrastination, that I’ll link here:

Stop comparing yourself to the future version of yourself in writing. Stop expecting yourself to be top-notch straight away. Future you has had years of experience, years of feedback, and years of practising. You haven’t had that yet. But by starting, that’s all you have to do to begin that journey. Forgive yourself for ‘bad writing’. Sometimes the best way to find that perfect sentence is to give yourself permission to write ‘badly’. And consider it like this, the fact you can see what your work is lacking is proof that you have writing and analytical skills and you are actively improving yourself by using these skills with your writing.

So with all this said, how do we fix bad writing? Well, that’s the beauty of editing. Writing is such a flexible form that editing can really help you polish the rough stone into something that gleams. That’s a hint for next month, where I’ll provide a short list of how to ‘fix bad writing’, so stay tuned! And good luck!

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