Bad Writer Confessions

Bad Writer Confessions: Habits I'm Guilty of Ignoring

When it comes to writing, the only limitation is our imagination. As long as we’re dreaming big and writing from the heart, nothing can stop us. At least, in theory. As it turns out, no-holds-barred writing is terrifying. Without rules, how are we supposed to know if our stories are any good?

Bad Writer Confessions: Habits I'm Guilty of Ignoring

By surrounding ourselves with research, mentors, books, and a community of peers, storytelling patterns and writerly behaviors become easier to understand. But, just as the similarities lend comfort, comparison can make us feel bad for not working, or thinking, or scheduling the same as “everybody else”. Today, I’m coming clean and confessing a few of the things I don’t do even though I’m a writer.

CONFESSION 1: I Don’t Outline

There are those who plot, those who never plot, and those who do a little plotting when they need it. This has nothing to do with a story having a plot, but rather, our creative process. And while many argue that pantsing a novel is for amateurs, I am one of those people who can’t seem to get excited by an outline.

Reasons I could feel guilty:

~If my story wasn’t carefully planned, does that mean it won’t turn out? Am I shooting myself in the foot by skipping a step?

~Does this make me a lazy writer?

~I may have to do WAY more re-writing compared to my friend who outlines.

Why I don’t:

~Outlining is one of many tools used by writers, and I’ve simply learned I can do without it. Knowing my process is more important than blindly sticking to someone else’s.

~Nobody cares how you get the job done so long as the final product is amazing. And it will be!

~Even people who outline need to do revisions and make changes along the way. That’s not a sign of bad writing.

CONFESSION 2: I’m Not Motivated by Telling Stories

Some writers are storytellers, weaving tales for a rapt audience. Their work is like a personal conversation with readers. Their great hope is to share their work, for it to be seen, and shared, and enjoyed. I’m not a storyteller. Even though our goals may be similar, I don’t share the same motivations that keep storytellers tapping at their keyboards day after day.

Reasons I could feel guilty:

~Are my stories going to be unappealing because I don’t care so much about future readers?

~Does this mean I shouldn’t be writing stories in the first place? Isn’t storytelling the point?

~Will I be misunderstood by my peers and writer friends if I say someday-maybe readers aren’t my greatest inspiration?

Why I don’t:

~Motivation is not the same as passion, effort, and skill. Readers connect to the final product, not your personal reasons for putting in the work.

~Everyone is motivated differently, even if they share a goal or dream. Embrace what works and keep going!

~Sharing what inspires and motivates me might help others who feel out of place or guilty. Our personal reasons for writing aren’t something we have to apologize for.

CONFESSION 3: I Don’t Know What I’m Doing

It’s commonly believed that–after a certain amount of time, education, and practice–a person can achieve mastery of a subject or craft. As a creative person, I know what it’s like to work hard, make progress, see the glimmer of what it may be like to have everything under control… and then lose every speck of confidence in my abilities when things don’t turn out as expected.

Reasons I could feel guilty:

~I’ve been writing since I was a teen, but I still haven’t reached the point where I feel like a pro.

~Every piece of writing advice under the sun doesn’t seem to make the job any easier.

~Lots of my stories have ended up in deep, dark archives, never to resurface. What a waste, right?

Why I don’t:

~Writing is an ever-changing creative process of trying something new. Every sentence, and chapter, and novel is different from the last. You can’t master something that’s in constant motion.

~Advice, resources, and processes all seem great in theory, but experience is the only way to know for sure what works. Keep trying, and you’ll eventually find YOUR way to write.

~Not every idea I’ve had was a good one. In writing them, I learned a lot about what I like, what I hate, and why there’s no shame in bailing. The experience of writing those drafts has made me a stronger writer, and has helped me find stories I’m really and truly passionate about.

Do any of these confessions resonate with your writerly experience? Are there any secretly-sacrilegious things you’d like to get off your chest? Share in the comments!

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