If you’re reading this article, you’re probably on the brink of throwing the latest paragraph you wrote into the trash.
However, you aren’t alone. Every new writer starts out hating or questioning what they’ve written; and if you’ve never thought that your writing needs work, you’re most likely too arrogant to even fathom the idea of constructive criticism.
However, the first step to improving our writing is accepting that we aren’t the best. Most great writers don’t come out of the womb knowing how to write proper character arcs, and many don’t even consider learning basic grammar. Writing is a skill that takes years of practice to master. Besides, it’s our greatest failures that cause us to improve the most!
For those of you looking for improvement, here’s seven reasons your writing needs work.
You always use shorthand
Do u even kno how 2 rite?!
If you understood the sentence above, my point is that we’ve come to accept poor writing as a society. No longer do we care about meticulously proofreading or using proper grammar before we press “send”.
This shorthand subconsciously hinders your writing abilities. By allowing this standard to be acceptable, you’re accepting mediocrity in the way you process information. I’m not saying you can’t ever take shortcuts when texting your friends, but it’s important to think about improving the way you write at all times.
The habits we make oftentimes creep back when you least expect it, especially if you want to be a professional writer.
You don’t read books
Poor writing oftentimes stems from a lack of reading; no longer are people consuming long-form written content on a daily basis.
However, this is a missed opportunity because reading great writing makes you a better writer. You’ll internalize sentence and story structure when you read well-written books, which in turn helps you hone your craft.
If the last time you read a book was your 12th grade English class, you might want to consider picking up a few books this week. And no, rants on Twitter that are the length of novels aren’t books.
Think about it: don’t you want to learn from people who are already successful? If you want to write Young Adult, then go read Young Adult books; if you want to write about history, then go check out some history books; and if you’re interested in making a manga, then checkout manga books.
You don’t care about dictionaries
If you write and decide to never open a dictionary, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The invention of the internet has made dictionaries more accessible than ever.
Dictionaries can help you find more descriptive words, lengthen your vocabulary, and can even give you insight to the origin of a word.
Also, you won’t look like an idiot if you double-check the correct use of that fancy word you want to use.
You don’t outline
Outlining can tremendously improve the way that you structure writing.
The reason your writing might need work is you don’t take the time to think about how you want to present your ideas. Keeping everything in your head can work for some people, but writing an outline can prevent you from missing important plot points.
In fact, I’ve covered the pros and cons of making an outline on this blog. You should check it out if you haven’t ever outlined before.
You’re not a great proofreader
This one might be a hard one to take in, I know; however, proofreading isn’t just correcting spelling and basic sentence structure. Proofreading involves knowing the difference between active and passive voice, editing character arcs, and deleting paragraphs that don’t add anything to your work.
You should actively seek to improve your proofreading skills. Bust out your old grammar books or go on the internet to learn more about how the English language works.
You never share your work
Some writers think that if they just sit in their room, magic will happen. However, that’s not how writing gets completed.
Writing is learned over a period of time and doesn’t naturally come to most people. While you might have talent in some areas, everyone can usually improve in others. That’s why you need others to read your work; outsiders can point out things you didn’t notice the first time.
If you never share your work, then you might be lacking critical pieces in your writing. Oftentimes others can point out when dialogue sounds confusing, awkward tense changes, or if a certain arc needs tweaking.
Find a trusted writing friend or join a critique group to start reaching out for the constructive criticism you need.
You haven’t accepted Writing is Hard
Yes, writing is hard; even though mostly everyone can read and write in *insert current year*, it’s still a skill that gets rusty if you don’t use it.
If writing was easy, then no one would ever pay someone to write copy for websites, books, brochures, product descriptions, social media posts, technical work, video scripts, you know the drill.
Heck, some people know how to make big bucks on internet making blogs like this one! If I knew what’s gonna be hot and popular, then I’d be booking my trip to the Bahamas (I wish!).
Here’s your Homework to Get Started
Now if you’ve accepted that you aren’t the best writer, the good news is you can start improving today! Here’s your homework to find one thing that you lack in your writing and start improving on it.
I’d like to encourage you to take the extra step and get started. No matter what level you might be at, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever make in the future. Besides, those who decide to make their work better are the ones who have a goal that they strive to reach. I wish you the best of luck, and hope to see your work on the bookshelves soon.