Monday, April 14, 2008

7 Things To Do When You Feel Like Every Word You Write Sucks

Deborah Ng at Network Blogging Tips is running a competition where bloggers are to write to a list post. "Between now and the end of the day April 20th, you must post a list on your blog," she says.

I don't expect that it is feasible for me to win the OneTouch 4 Mini 250 GB external hard drive, worth $129.00. It would cost too much to mail through, I think.

Still, something today forced me to write this post, and I thought, why not arrange the info as a list?

Anyway, I hope you find this post useful, and if you do enter the competition and do not win, go out and buy an external drive for yourself. You don't want to find youself in this situation, as I recently did. Take it from me - shelling out the money for the external drive is less painful.

Today I had one of those days when , no matter how good a writer you are, or how confident, you feel that every word you write sucks.

The feeling had nothing to do with how productive I was. In fact, I researched and wrote two news articles, a 650 perspective and a 900 feature today. Yet, I felt like I really suck.

Sometimes a small incident triggers the feeling: a rejection which under normal circumstances wouldn’t bother you suddenly acquired gigantic importance, or a comment from a reader who disagrees with you on a certain point is blown out of proportion.

Despite the fact that the reader is saying “I disagree,” what you hear is “Your writing sucks. Your writing has always sucked, and I can’t figure out how the hell the conned anyone into publishing your work.”

Here are some of the things I did that helped raise my my spirits, and kept me so busy I didn’t have the time to dwell on whether I’m a terrible writer or not.

1. Look to Internet for encouraging words/words of wisdom– Here are some of the articles I found through a Google search:

Bonita Lillie’s “Encouraging Words for Writers.”
Thirteen Encouraging Quotes for Writers Striving to Become Authors
What to Do When You’re Feeling Down by Cheryl Rainfeld

Some of the articles/quotes did not speak to my particular circumstance, but there were things I could relate to.

Look for more articles from writers/bloggers you respect, or on subjects that closely match you and your needs.

2. Write about it – Write the whole story down: what happened to make you think you’re a terrible writer, how it happened, how you feel.

If there were some things that you could have done differently to improve the story, acknowledge your mistakes and outline what you learnt from them.

If you think writing about your experience is a waste of time, consider that wallowing in self-pity is even less useful.

In any case, you may choose to publish it as a blog post, or if you’re not comfortable spilling your guts in a public forum, leave it as a personal journal entry. Or you may write about it in a less personal way, as I did with this list post.

3. Consider what you accomplished that day –Sometimes we writers let our specific writing problems overshadow what we accomplished.

Don’t restrict your accomplishments to writing-related activities either – if your major accomplishment involved taking care of your child for 5 uninterrupted hours, without shouting at him, then acknowledge it as an accomplishment that is important to you.

4. Read previously published works – Editors accepted your work, used it, and even paid you for it in the past. So your writing is not as bad as you imagine it is.

5. Share with others – This is where joining a writing community, or even forming some kind of partnership with another writer, helps.

“Sometimes things are so bad you start think you’re terrible at your job and then you realize that someone else is actually having a worse time,” another journalist, who also had a trying day, said to me.

6. Chat to someone who always makes you laugh – I was fortunate in that the same journalist who also had a bad day has a skewed sense of humour. Before long, we were laughing over life’s silly moment.

7. Correct your mistakes ASAP –If you’re feeling down because you made a mistake in a story, or a story was rejected, work on it again as soon as possible and send it somewhere else.

You don’t want the failed story to acquire demonic proportions, as this will make it difficult for you to resume work on it.

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