I think this happens even to those of us who are fabulously rich and famous. I mean, just look at some of the schmuck that’s made it to the best-sellers list (or is it really schmuck?). But it happens to all of us at one point, especially if our writing isn’t getting the attention we want for it.
So, how do you know if you’re a bad writer?
Well, if you mean unskilled, that can usually be judged by the reviews you get from unbiased readers, or the silence of readers. That is, if you’re brave enough to publish on online story sites, such as Wattpad or Fictionpress. If only you’re mother has read it, then you aren’t going to know. Mother’s don’t count, even one as blunt as mine. Nor do any friends or family members who don’t know a lick about being a professional writer. Also, if you don’t have the courage to just get out there and let people read your story, you’re never going to know.
So, let’s say you get your story to a trusted eye, someone who can actually give you an educated review on the skill level of your storytelling or writing techniques. What if they return your story blotted with red and try to hide their repulsion by not really looking you in the eye when they give their review? What if you get some reviews that just say, “great!” or you’re not getting any views at all?
In short, what if you find out that you’re no Shakespeare?
Well, there’s three things you can legitimately do, with no shame on your part:
1. Cry and Give Up.
That’s right, just let it all out. It sucks, don’t it? Go into your closet, cry about your rejections and faults until you’re shirt is slick with snot and you’re doing that weird hiccuping breath thingy that happens when you cry to much.
Then, just give up. Don’t dream about being a writer anymore. You don’t want to give that risk, and that’s fine, go find something else to do. Maybe just write on the side to handle you’re various psychotic mental illnesses (totally not speaking about myself here >.>).
2. Cry and then Be An Asshole:
I mean, what do they know? This is art! You’re freaking Picasso, and they just don’t understand your way of telling stories. There are thousands out there who are looking just for you, and whoever says anything bad about your writing is just focusing on the few little flaws you accidentally looked over. I mean, honestly, they don’t know you at all!
3. Get to Work:
Get on dem writing forums. Download some podcasts on writing (there’s tons of free ones out there). Take a class, read a book on writing, really read the notes they left behind, inspect your writing–
And then write, write, write, and write. And then read TONS of books–not writing books. Any books. Surround yourself in language and the use of it. Dive into poetry, read those cliche fantasies you love oh so very much, read a genre you would never touch (did that once with commercial Romance, ugh)–whatever it is, just read, and do a lot of it. Get better, work hard, write every day and study until you are not only satisfied with yourself, but you can go up to anyone with confidence and offer up your story.
Now, say you’ve done all that. Say you’re a lot like me and are waiting right on the edge of the query letter journey and self-publishing. Say you’ve even made a few bucks with your writing, won a few awards, got a following, yadah yadah, but it’s just one of those down days of yours where you’re not sure your writing will get you anywhere. I mean, deals like J.K. Rowling or James Patterson are a literal few in a million chance. Much more brilliant writers end up as worn out paperbacks on the bottom of some discount basket. The market is so fickle, agents are fickle, and so is your confidence.
In that case, just forget about it for a day. Forget about being good or bad, because to some extent, you will never really know. Just for a day, just write. Tell yourself a story. Have some fun. And don’t look to the future that has yet to be with fear, that will just paralyze you in your tracks and blind you to the joy you have here and now.
Chin up. You’re doing great. Because you are doing what you love.