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When you Hate your own Writing

If you’ve been writing for a while, there will come a time when you hate your writing. 

Maybe some of it, maybe all of it, who knows – but there will come a time when everything you write just makes you angry, sad, upset, dejected…pick your word.

So let’s talk about it! 😀

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It’s Natural

And it’s not just for writers either.  People of different careers, jobs, hobbies etc have times when they hate what they are creating/doing.

For creatives it can hit hard because we’re not just doing this for a paycheck, it’s an art, even a need, for us so to suddenly hate what you’re doing can really stick in your throat.

Sometimes we just fall out of step.

Have you ever been walking with someone and then you feel “off” and you realise you’re out of step?  You correct it and it feels “right”?  (hopefully, that’s not just me!)

The same thing can happen with writing.  We can just fall out of the groove and when we write everything feels off like we’re not in sync any more.

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It’s Temporary

Yup, it will pass!

Now, I just want to clarify, if you are writing something and you aren’t gelling with it – the plot, the characters, etc then that’s different.

Sometimes a story just isn’t for us and we have to let it go.  Though I always ALWAYS stress, don’t delete, just put it aside.  Go back in a month or two and check it with fresh eyes.

If you still aren’t feeling the pull, you can put it in your scraps pile and work on something else or if you’re 100% sure it’s not even worth keeping on your scraps pile – then get rid and move on.

No, this “hating-of-your-writing” I’m talking about is on projects you love, projects with awesome characters and a plot you like but suddenly you hate everything you’re writing.

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Why you Hate it

We all write crap

If you are a new writer or haven’t written for a while, or haven’t written a lot then you might hate your writing.  Which is good!  You should look at it sometimes and think “wow, that’s crap”.

Because when you acknowledge you’ve written crap you know what crap looks like and can progress to writing better.  Which comes with practice.  So be prepared to write a LOT of crap.

Skill takes time

You’re developing a skill so just wade on through.  If you aren’t happy with creating crap writing for your actual story, try and work on something else.

Try flash fiction or writing prompts.  Get all your crap out in there and use it to study and find your weaknesses and strengths.

For example, if you find your writing descriptively weak then use photo prompts and work on creating mini-scenes of descriptions.

This goes for new and experienced writers alike, we are ALL always developing and honing our ability.

Comparison is killing you

You’ve been comparing yourself to others.  Seriously, people, you gotta stop doing that!

The more time you spend looking at other people’s work and thinking “mine’s not that good” the less time you’ll actually go about making yours good.

You’re not focused on the Journey

Instead, you’re too focused on the end result.  Maybe you’re dying to get to the finish line of your novel, you can see yourself getting published but when you read your work you see it lacking.

Yes, you need to think about the finish line, after all, I harp on about marketing early, BUT that doesn’t mean you’re not meant to be focusing most of your efforts on the actual writing.

Take as long as you need to get your writing good.  Take breaks away if it’s leaving you frustrated.  Brainstorm with friends, family or critique partners to help overcomes areas that are bogging down your story.

There’s other stuff going on

Often we forget that outside influences, as well as inside influences, can affect how we see things.  If we’re dealing with low self-esteem because of what others have said, or because of something we’re going through – that can affect your writing/how you see your writing.

If you are suffering from depression, even mild depression, it will colour how you view your writing.

Stress, depression, trauma, grief, worry, illness… and loads more things can affect how you write, and how you see your writing.

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What can you do?

Remember that it’s temporary but accept that sometimes, these phases can last a while, even into a year or two.

Don’t delete or destroy anything right away.  Always give yourself plenty of time to step away.  Put your notes, work, ideas into a folder and put it out of sight.

We creatives can get a little crazy sometimes and the last thing you want is to suddenly get the urge to shred or delete all your work.  Trust me, you WILL regret it.

I rarely delete anything (I did in the past and it’s haunted me), now all those pieces I’m not sure about, aren’t too keen on, are in my scrap pile.  Which is technically a lever arch binder.

I haven’t looked at it in years but I know it’s there if I ever want to go back to any of them.  They may eventually get cannibalised into another story.

Take a break – a real break, where you just don’t do anything other than really relax.  A weekend, a week, even just a day, give your mind a real rest away through it all.

Acknowledge that other things in your life may be affecting your perception and look at addressing them as best you can.

Talk to supportive people either in your family, friends or in the writing community.

We all hate our writing sometimes, you’re not alone.

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Have you ever hated your writing?

Happy writing

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21 comments

  1. Great post, Ari! I relate to the points about comparison and a shifted perspective because of other life events going on which can temporarily change your more positive relationship with your writing. Comparison is particularly a killer and I’ve reflected upon this a good deal, coming to the conclusion that since we are probably incapable of jugding our own writing clearly, then there is simply no point in comparing. We just have to write at our very best level and let the comparison game go.

    1. Thanks Lynne. Yes, comparision can be deadly. We are not clearly thinking when we compare ourselves to others, often unaware of the amount of work the other person did. I do still have to fight myself over comparing.

  2. Great advice, Ari. I’m sure this is a universal truth for all artists, and you’re so right about external factors playing a role in how we view things.
    I think sometimes it’s a blessing not to realize you’re writing crap, especially in the beginning, as this allows us to blindly, blissfully carry on writing while we learn. And everyone writes crap in the beginning.

    1. lol that is true, it is a blessing when we don’t know we are writing crap.

      I think we all start that way and if we’re lucky, it stays like that for a while before we get hit with the ugly truth that our writing sucks… even if we know it will get better lol

  3. I never “hate” my writing. However, sometimes I do think that I could do better. I think stepping away from it and giving it time is the best way to improve. Often times the “hate” is misplaced. I have what I think is a great idea, but then I sit down, write it down, rewrite it, edit it some more and after a while, it’s not as great as I thought it was. Why? It’s not because I suck, but because I KNOW the story so well. I know the character and where everything will end. We forget that the other readers will NOT.

  4. Oh hecks yeah, I’ve hated my writing. I definitely feel bad more often than I feel good about it, and it’s the reason I can’t seem to force myself to seek agents or publication.

    1. I understand that feeling. It can be hard taking that step to send out pieces of your work to professionals.

      But even if you start small, share excerpts online, seek out betas and CPs, that can all help you grow confidence to send it out.

      And remember, even the best writers received rejections, so don’t let worry that hold you back 🙂

      We sometimes hate things that others think is awesome. So maybe put it out there 😀

  5. Yes! Great post, Ari and such a universal truth. I once hated my MS so much I considered giving up on it. I’d already read though it so many times I couldn’t bear to even look at it again. I took a break, worked on something else, and came back to it and made some major changes. Those changes ended up being the version offered a small press contract after the version I hated got three years of rejections. Sometimes hating your project enough to change it is what will finally make it good.

    1. Thanks so much.

      OMG yes, the dreaded overead MS. I understand that feeling, and with each new read you get more annoyed with it.

      I’m glad to hear that taking a break from it gave you the space and time to come back with fresh eyes and make it work.

      That is so awesome and very inspiring!!

  6. When you’re obsessed with perfectionism, everything will look like crap to you. (I’m writing out of experience.)

    It’s even worse when you’re a hopeless perfectionist who keeps comparing himself to those who write better than him. We writers often forget that writing, like almost every skill, takes time and so much practice to master. Those writing gurus we compare ourselves to once wrote crap. Who knows? Maybe their crap was even more crappy than ours.

    Writing crap is part of the process, and until we accept this fact, we’ll keep hating our writing and underestimating our abilities.

    Valuable advice as always, Ari!

    1. Thanks Obinna. Being a perfectionist can be a nightmare. I found my perfectionism was what had me writing and editing at the same time which meant I didn’t always finish things.

      What an interesting thought, maybe you’re right, maybe those gurus’ earlier work WERE worst than ours. 😀

      We should never compare our unfinished, unedited work against someone else’s finished, polished work.

  7. Comparison is the hardest for me to get over. Each time I finish reading an amazing book, I feel so small – how could I possible writing something as good? It’s easier to get over it now than it was when I starting writing. It’s easier to replace the “not good enough” feeling with determination to become good enough.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I know what you mean, I admit I do still struggle with comparison.

      I fall into two ways, I feel like crap because I feel the chasm between me and the writer in the way of talent…but sometimes I see it as the benchmark I’m striving for.

      I try VERY hard to view it as the latter these days. Doing that really helped me develop better but every now and then, I get crushed with the former.

  8. “If you are a new writer or haven’t written for a while, or haven’t written a lot then you might hate your writing. Which is good! You should look at it sometimes and think “wow, that’s crap”.

    Because when you acknowledge you’ve written crap you know what crap looks like and can progress to writing better. Which comes with practice. So be prepared to write a LOT of crap.”

    Best advice, by far.

  9. 🙂 Everyone’s writing style takes time to develop. So, it is no surprise that a lot of people would hate their writing in the beginning.

    Do enjoy the rest of your day, Ari!

    1. That is so true, Renard. We all develop differently and it does take time and practice. I think as long as we don’t stop, even when we hate our writing, we’re doing well.

      I hope you have a great day, my friend.

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