How to Not Suck at Writing

DSC_0418I was feeling pretty good about myself again, you know, that whole “writer’s streak” when all of your “readers” are telling you:

“This is it! This is your magnum opus! The apple pie of all pies! The cirrus cloud among all of your cumulonimbus anvils!”

Hell, I even started writing a query letter, just in case they were right. I could get a book published in three years! I’ve got this yo! And my query readers were humming:

“Right onnnnn! Rah-stah-fah-riiii!”

Even the constructive criticism didn’t bug me. I’m a genius, alright? I’ve been writing all my life and I’ve finally figured it out! I’ve discovered the element that is writing! I am all-knowing and all other writers will one day bow down to me!

And then, just as a little exercise, I decided to read the first ten pages of a great YA author’s popular book, and I realized something debilitating:

Good God, I suck.

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It took me back to all of the other times in my life when I’ve realized how much I suck. Like the time my mom read 65% of one of my novels and described it as muddying through and skimming. I thought to myself:

“This is shit! Why do I even bother?”

And the other time, when someone asked me: what’s the point of this story, exactly? And I chewed myself out:

“You don’t even understand plot! You moron! No agent will ever choke down your query!”

And that one time my teacher told me I was better than romance:

“Just give up already! You’re no rockstar! You’re nothing but a dud firecracker just waiting for a never-gonna-happen lighter to the ass!”

But this time was a tad different as you suck you suck you suck circled my head like dancing birdies on a cartoon’s fresh concussion. I realized something amazing, something that will no doubt help me in the writing world.

I will always suck.

And then I discovered it! The great peak of the mountain we writers are always climbing toward! The very key to not sucking at writing! And it is this…and only this…

If you do not want to suck at writing…

Don’t write.

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To the never-before-written-anything-suddenly-want-to-write writer, if you do not wish to suck:

Don’t write.

DSC_0417To the been-writing-for-a-few-years-can’t-wait-to-send-in-a-query writer, if you do not wish to continue sucking:

Don’t write.

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To the been-there-done-that-have-published-a-few-novels writer, if you do not wish to suck at another pre-bestseller:

Don’t write.

Because everywhere, within each writer’s laptop/notebook/chisel and hammer, there is a rough draft, a second draft, a fourteenth draft, a shitty poem, a trashy short story, a smelly prose. We’ve all been there. We’ve all written the biggest POS on the planet.

And the only way to get better, is to suck.

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So if you never want to suck at writing. Just keep that writing document closed. Best to just leave it to the amateur who thinks he knows it all…

One day, he’ll write a bestseller called One Cliché Novel. And you’ll read his book. And you’ll think to yourself as you gag over each word:

“Holy frappuccino on roller skates! This guy SUCKS!”

But he’s the one rolling in the green, touring the world, and having coffee with Brad Pitt who just so happens to be the main character of the movie based on his other book called It’s Been Done Before But Slightly Different.

And you will regret that you didn’t beat him to the game.

15 thoughts on “How to Not Suck at Writing

  1. I love this. And coincidentally, it’s exactly what I needed to hear right now. I’m pretty sure someone has been whispering in my ear while I sleep, telling me I’m awful. And. You’re pretty funny so that helps too.

    • Glad you stopped by then! Haha, yes, I too have heard the bring-me-down whisperer. I think he hides behind my curtains…or on Netflix. One of the two…

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  3. I once read a quote by a well-known author, which seems relevant. I’m going to butcher it, and I don’t remember who said it, but it was along the lines of: “To be a writer you have to have the simultaneous convictions that your work is the greatest piece of literature ever written, and that it is the sloppies piece of pupolar drivel pen has dared put to paper.”

    So while you’re slugging along on your work, it will probably suck. But every once in a while, take a step back and remind yourself – “Hey, that’s pretty good!”

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  5. It’s like you were listening in last time I was having this internal monologue. Hehe. Every time I feel I suck at my writing, I think of all the awful writings out there that have become blockbusters, and then I think – if they can do it, so can I!

    • Haha, oh yesh, and I think our inner critic is telling us it’s way worse than it really is. What’s funny, is I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve learned that if I like something…it’s probably terrible. Readers usually love the stuff I hate and hate the stuff I love.

  6. Hi, Lina!
    This was a great post. I am close to the end of my first draft of a novel I am *wildly* excited about. It’s a historical novel, and I have just begun reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, The Signature of All Things. It, too, is a historical novel, and the voice is BRILLIANT. I finally got myself to put the book down long enough to go back and work on my work-in-progress. Needless to say, it was extremely depressing, after reading Gilbert’s great prose, to discover how badly my writing SUCKS. But my writer friends assure me that Gilbert also had days of looking at her first draft of this book and telling herself that she, too, sucks, so I should just buck up and keep going. Thanks for the reiteration!

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