5 Warning Signs of Being a Bad Writer

Everything happy in your lolly-jolly writersphere? Good for you! I like happiness.

Wait, come again? (Listens with intent). Oh dear. That’s why you’re happy? That puts you in the company of many a writer swimming in the blissful water of ignorance.

Close that pool.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

Serious question, Mr. All Wrong:

I feel like “I’m where I want to be” with my writing. Engaged within the writing community. Full of inspiration. Multiple projects going. Money! 

Why am I bothering with Writing All Wrong if everything is going All Write?

—Benjamin Stump, New Holland, Pa.

“Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take heed lest he fall.” – Jesus.

I agree with Jesus here. With that, I give you five warning signs of being a bad writer:

1. Getting the formula down.

If you can crank out one hundred novels a year, then that’s impressive. What’s not impressive is when you boil it down to a science, a predictable formula. Formulaic is not how you want to be described. You have become no good writer when you reduce it to a soulless recipe, you soulless fiend. Shame. Slow down and create something worth writing.

2. None who challenge.

If everyone loves what you’re doing, then you must be doing it right. Of course. That makes sense, but it’s wrong. When you have no opposition left, be afraid. Be very afraid. The honest among you have fled, and you may be surrounded by cowards who will only appease your ego. But what are they doing to spur on excellence in writing? Nothing. Find at least one person who will be honest, one who will challenge. He or she may be the only one you know who will tell you truth you don’t want to hear. Truth that will make your writing better.

3. Embracing community over creation.

If you value the “writing community” over “writing,” then you have issue. Deep down, I can’t find why you’d want to be a writer. Just be a “social media friend!”What makes you happier: perfecting a narrative (or a sentence!) or getting a ton of retweets and blog comments from all the “friends” you made on the World Wide Internet? We all want to be affirmed. It’s that blasted weakness of ego within us. Re-align it somehow and get the focus back on the writing. Or be everyone’s friend if you want. Crapsucking writers love each other more than anyone.

4. Being a player, bringing no game.

Yes, you. “Writers” in quotes only. You “aspiring” writers. You who toot your own horns without having one to speak of. I’m glad that you identify yourself with writing. You now have two options: show it, or get busy on showing it. There’s a measure of forgiveness to those who bring an amateur’s game to a pro’s court, sure, but there’s no forgiveness for those who “wear that jersey” and don’t come to play.

5. Writing wonderfully in your own mind.

Even the best writer knows he can make his writing better. If you’ve put yourself on top a nice little pedestal, and no one (lesser or greater) can take you down, then it’s a little pedestal indeed. That first draft should be your worst draft. As should the second, third, whatever. Crave improvement, refinement. When you don’t, you begin the journey to the Dark Side of Bad Writing.

What other warnings have you had to heed to keep from the sin of Bad Writing?

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com) and followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong).

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