We’ve all had his moment: You’ve been writing for months and you come to a stopping point — the end of a draft, or a break in consciousness — and you read back your work. A bad feeling creeps in: This sucks. Am I a bad writer?
And while these intrusive thoughts can feel valid, that doesn’t mean you should listen to them. It’s actually good if you think your work sucks! This means you’re improving and have become a better writer. Yay!
It’s easy to compare your work to a book on a shelf and think “I’ll never be as good as that.” But keep in mind that authors have editors, and books go through many revisions before they are published. It can be harmful to compare your unfinished work with a published one.
Here are a few reasons why you might think your work sucks.
If you find scenes that feel “meh” or bland, changing the setting might help. What if it was raining? What if this was outside instead? Or in a character's room? Interesting choices make for interesting scenes.
If the diagnoses above don’t give you ideas for what to do next, here are some further options.
Being a young author is about growing as a writer. It may take several tries before you’re happy with a draft, and the first story you write may not nail what you were going for. Feeling like your writing sucks is part of the author’s journey, and for me part of everything I write at first. Doubt can tell us when we’ve become better writers and when our work needs to improve.
To cap things off, first drafts are important even if they suck! Without them, we wouldn’t have second, third, or fourth drafts! They’re allowed to suck. Write the worst prose you’ve ever seen, do anything to get the story out of your brain and into the world so you can see it, and, when you want, change it. We at JUVEN wish you best of luck, and happy writing.
is a writer based in North Carolina. She attends writing classes of all kinds at UNC Chapel Hill and has a particular fondness for sharp imagery. In her free time, she drafts her own novels.