How to Know If You’re a Bad Writer

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Earlier this year, I posted a discussion on what to do when you’re a bad writer with a good story. PopCultureGrinch read the piece and asked a follow up: how do you know when you’re a bad writer?

I responded wittily, “There’s a reasonably famous quote that says there’s no such thing as a bad writer, only bad writing but maybe that’s just to make us all feel better about ourselves.” It’s a little ironic because in that moment, I was a bad writer. There is no such quote, at least not a famous one. I guess it’s my quote now. The quote I was actually referring to is by Oscar Wilde, who said, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

Which just goes to show that being a bad writer isn’t a static state. Someone who has previously been a bad writer can become a good writer. And someone who has previously been a good writer can lapse into moments (hopefully not too many) of being a bad writer. (I hope that it’s not something I suffer from all the time and is more closely related to my laziness in confirming that the quote existed anywhere outside of my mind rather than my general ability to write.) Continue reading

The Writer’s Commandments

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Remember when you were a kid? A large part of the learning process was accomplished by doing. And then being screamed at by an adult to never do it again. Like putting your hand under the running hot tap. Like running out onto a road to collect a ball without checking for oncoming cars. Like riding a mini motorbike into a barbed wire fence (okay, so maybe this one was only me).

It would have been so much easier if someone had told me before I did any or all of these things not to do them instead of waiting until after I’d done them and then shouting at me. Maybe it wouldn’t have made any difference. But we’ll never know because nobody thought to try the learning process in a different order.

Even for older children these days, a common refrain is, “But nobody told me not to do it.” So here’s a few commandments for writers out there. You probably shouldn’t have to be and don’t need to be told these things. But just in case, here they are so that you can never say, “But nobody told me not to do it.” Continue reading