For Aron: What Do You Do When Your Writing's Not So Good

>> Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Aron said: I can't write a good blog post! I don't know why, but the last 7 or so posts I wrote have been so bad that I scraped them. I sit down and try to write, but what comes out on "paper" I'm not happy with. Maybe I'm being a perfectionist, but what I write now seems to be at a lower quality then what I wrote before. Help, please. I have 2 hours a day scheduled to blogging, one hour for writing, one hour for community efforts. But, even if I spend two hours on a post, they still reek.

Take a breath, Aron. I don't know anyone who writes regularly who isn't plagued by this kind of thing, myself included. Everyone who writes has had days when an idea that sounded great when you were thinking about it just didn't ring true when put on "paper."

Sometimes, it's because the ideas themselves are lacking. That happens to everyone. Eventually, a good idea or concept will hit you. More often, and this is the most common, you are just too critical and that could be proximity (you're just too close), currently feeling down on yourself or just not feeling in the mood for what you're writing. And, sometimes, and this happens to everyone, one's writing just reeks.

There are two basic ways of dealing with it. One is to back off writing until you start to write things you like again (or get some distance on what you have written so you can read it objectively). You might use the "time off" to get some inspiration, reading something that you aspire to emulate. You might find something different to do with your time, something that relaxes you like indulging in some other creative function (music or art) or losing yourself in mindless entertainment like video games or sports. Maybe it's your mind's way of telling you to take a break. For me, this is what this kind of thing usually means. When I start writing crap (and when I write crap, it's REALLY bad), it's usually a sign for me that I need to regroup.

However, for some, the appropriate response is to continue to write through their craptastic phases. either because they can only beat the blahs by writing through them or because it's not as bad as they think and they won't know until they get some distance or because, by writing forward, they can get past the part they don't like and keep the story (or whatever going). Then, they can go back and fix what's broken once the rest is in place. That's less compelling for blogs, but, for some, writing through the dry patches is how they bring the dry patches to an end.

I'm, personally a proponent for the first for myself, but each writer has to decide what works best for them (and it might involve trying both methods to see what works). My sister works the second method and it's the one for her.

I can't cure it, but I can tell you that most dry patches are not life long. I can also tell you that you are far from alone in struggling with your writing at times.

Good luck. I hope you find your way out of the blahs and back into the world where you like your writing as much as we do.


  • musing

    Good advice. I'm a back off and wait for inspiration kind of writer myself. But, like you said, whatever works.

  • Phyl

    I often find that it really helps to write the thing, then take the break to get refreshed, and then come back with fresh eyes.

    I had a writing instructor who advised people at least to get something written down, because it was easier to edit what already existed than come up with something new.

    I've sometimes had posts, on my cultural article blog, where I had almost the complete article written and then thought, "This is boring crap." And almost immediately the thought would come, "If I started at this later point, and introduced it in this sprightly way, it would go really well."

    But it was like I had to get the boring stuff "written out" first, to lay some kind of groundwork or get it out of my system or something.

  • Stephanie B

    See, that's what my sister does, too. I can't do that, though. If it stinks, I won't revise it, I'll toss it and start over. AND it will give me such a bad taste in my mouth, I'll probably table it entirely (often for years - I've got some dusty manuscripts where I pushed myself to write when I was mentally dry - and I haven't touched them since).

    For me, I can only write effectively when I'm "ready".

  • Lidian

    I like to do a bit of both - take a break, but not too long (or else I just go off and read and do other things and never want to come back!) and then...go back, just plunge right back in, and get back to writing. Eventually, things get better. If I wait until I feel ready, I am just not going to do it. But that's just me - I have a real procrastination issue! :)

  • Stephanie B

    Well, and that's what I'm trying to say. I don't think there is ONE right thing to do for everyone (I rarely do). I think you need to find the method that works for you and allows you to get back to where you're happy with your writing.

  • flit

    Reading your work out loud can go a VERY long way to making it better, too.

  • Aron Sora

    It's just, some times I feel like my ideas are worthless, especially if there are other blogs on space written by people with PhDs. I'm only a high school senior/undergrad. But, I'm just going to write through this. Thank you for the tips, I really needed them.

  • Stephanie B

    Don't worry about "experts", Aron. Every one of them started out as a high school student with hopes and dreams and who's to say that the hopes and dreams they had when they were young didn't shape the path they took.

    Nothing screens an idea like putting it out there. If it's got issues, putting the idea out there will draw those out and you can adapt the idea or learn so you can apply it to the next idea. If it has potential, you have something to build off of. Potential can be shaped in many ways, and we can always use new ideas. Plus, having issues does not preclude merit. And, even the experts can be surprised what works.

    Believe me, many experts will get their ideas torn to shreds, too. The more you learn, the better you'll adapt. And that skill will serve you better than a string of degrees

  • Aron Sora

    Thanks, I really needed the motivation. I'm getting back into things now.

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