Writer's Block,  Writing Inspiration,  Writing Life

What to Do When You Hate Your Own Writing

Hi Lizard… Do you know what would help if you hate your own writing so much it actually keeps you from writing at all? Like you can’t even think about writing without feeling extreme disgust towards your own work. My heart aches because I really want to write, but I can’t.

Oh dear, have I been there before! While at this moment, it might feel like you are alone and artistically incompetent, you’re not alone. Every artist who takes their craft seriously has felt this way at some point in time. I have hated my own writing. I hate my own writing even now and I’ve got a lot of self-confidence. I’m always second-guessing myself. This is something that doesn’t necessarily go away. You’ll always have bad days or bad weeks, but the important thing is that you not let this self doubt effect your writing.

I spent all of yesterday cringing through a scene of a short story. I hated every sentence. It just felt clumsy and awkward. This happens but I knew that I wanted to tell this story and though it’s not looking great, writing is a process. So, while I might hate this version, at least it’s now on the page. Now, it’s something I can work with. I can edit it, revise it, try to tell it from a different point of view, whatever. It’s a start.

Sometimes it’s not actually that bad.

You might be having a bad day. When you read it over a week later, you might feel differently about this “bad writing.” It might be a lot more workable than you’d previously thought. It might not perfect, but maybe it’s not terrible. This happens to me constantly. I’ll think the scene was unbearably and then I’ll read it a week later and think, there are actually some things I like about this and can salvage for the next draft.

This I know is definitely a skill that can take a lot of time to develop. What’s the saying? Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Take some time to find the things you like about what you wrote. It might be an interesting turn of a phrase or a metaphor that works really well thematically with the rest of the story. Find the gems and make sure they make it into the next draft!

Bad is a strong word. Maybe it’s just a little confused.

Sometimes if a scene is just not working, it has nothing to do with the writing. It’s about the direction. Is this story moving towards the “right” ending? Because writing is such a solitary process, it can be easy to forget about direction and movement, but these elements are crucial to any piece of writing.

No matter what you’re writing, you have to come into writing knowing that there is a direction. There is an end goal that it’s moving towards. The stories I love most seem to know their endings from the first line. When it comes to the writing of it, remember, writing is a process. We don’t have to know the ending by the time we write our first sentences, but having a general idea of direction is a great idea.

For instance, new writers tend to write a lot of filler scenes. Someone once told me that in her first book, her characters were always going out for coffee. Imagine if Frodo and his gang stopped at every inn, pub, and kingdom along the way to Mordor. The book would be SO MUCH LONGER. Sometimes if you’re hating a scene, it’s not about the writing at all. It’s because nothing crucial is happening.

You can argue that every scene is essential, but if it’s feeling dull, what if you combined like 4 of those incredibly crucial scenes into one. Your characters might be at a bar when a new rival walks in and this also happens to be the moment where a love interest suddenly drops dead. It might be hectic, but it’s certainly not dull.

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