Things You Do That Make You A Bad Writer
Listen, we all have personal preferences and habits. But being a good writer is no cakewalk, and if what you’re doing is having an effect on your work, it’s time to re-evaluate.
Here are 10 things you might be doing that are also making you a bad writer:
1. Winging it
We get it, planning ahead might not be your style. But we’re not saying you should do a 10-page outline complete with references and footnotes.
At the very least, it’s useful to at least have some idea of where you want to go with your piece, and how you want to get there.
You’ll find that planning ahead helps tremendously with clarity and focus in your writing. Plus, it’s highly likely that you’ll manage to finish it faster too.
2. Not doing your homework first
If you don’t know what you’re talking about, it shows. And unless you’re Chris Hemsworth (or his glorious hair), all is not easily forgiven.
Best case scenario: your work is not going to be particularly useful/informative for readers – ergo, bad content. Worst case scenario: glaring inaccuracies and mistakes will ruin not only that particular assignment, but also your credibility as a writer.
So it’s important that you cover all your bases. You don’t have to become an expert in the topic right away, but remember that the best content is written by people who actually understand what they’re writing about.
3. Not proofreading your work
So you’re finally done with an assignment. Maybe you think it’s perfect. Or maybe you’re just so done with it that you never want to see it again.
But before you hit submit, always do a quick once-over to check for typos, grammatical errors, and the general flow.
Typo-ridden submissions reflect badly on you as a writer. Sometimes, after reading your work again with fresh eyes, you might even realise that it needs major changes.
Whichever the case, it’s always better to be safe than submit a sub-standard piece of work.
4. Treating your readers like they’re stupid
No one likes being condescended to. If you write to your readers like they’re dumb, you turn them off right away.
Even if your piece is meant to be educational/directed at beginners, there are ways to be informative without coming off as patronising or arrogant.
Respect your audience, and they’ll respect you too.
5. Treating your readers like they know everything
Okay, I know this seems like direct contradiction of the previous point, but stay with me.
While you shouldn’t think of your audience as complete idiots, you can’t just assume that they know everything about what you’re talking about either.
Write simply, be concise, and avoid excessive technical jargon (unless the assignment/audience demands it).
At the end of the day, you’re a communicator, so your job is to make sure your work is as readable as possible for your audience.
6. Not writing enough
This one is a no-brainer if you really think about it. Writing is a skill, and skills need practice.
I feel you: writing for work can be exhausting, and sometimes you just want to take a break from it all.
But not exercising your writing muscles also keeps you from becoming a better writer. You know what they say: no pain, no gain.
7. Not reading enough
It’s not enough just to practice writing; you have to constantly practice reading too.
Fiction, non-fiction, listicles, longform, it doesn’t matter. Just READ. You need to constantly expose yourself to different kinds of writing so that you can enrich your own.
8. Not being spontaneous
Okay, you might be a bit skeptical about this one. After all, aren’t writers just supposed to shackle themselves to their desks and, well…write?
Yes and no. Experiences are to writers what water is to crops. The world is made up of the experiences of the people in it, and to be able to talk to people about anything at all, you need to be able to relate to those experiences.
And the best way to get the depth and breadth of understanding about the human experience is to actually go out and do things.
So get yourself out there. Expose yourself to new things. Connect yourself to the rest of the world, of you’ll never be any good at writing about it.
We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s terrifying to have to create things when you’re not sure if you’re good enough.
But letting self-doubt keep you from writing isn’t the answer either. Get someone you trust to look over your work, so they can give you honest feedback. Chances are, it’s probably great, but you needed someone else’s opinion to be sure.
Have a little faith. Take a deep breath and send your work out into the world. Write boldly. I promise that it won’t be as bad as you think.
10. Writing only for yourself
This is the ultimate flaw of any bad writer. Writing may be a solitary activity, but the product is as much for its intended audience as it is for the author.
Being a writer means that your job is to communicate with each and every person who reads your work. How good you are all comes down to how well you relate to your readers, so it’s absolutely essential to put them first.
If you want to succeed at writing, always remember that it’s not all about you.
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