In my last alley post, we chatted about the insecurity of thinking our writing stinks.
Comparison can be EVIL.
Let's face it.
We aren't perfect.
There are times when we write something would make Charles Dickens want to give up writing so he doesn't have to share the title of "writer" with someone who writes such drivel.
But how do we know? How do we know our precious gems, which we've worked so hard on, which we already have such anxiety and doubts about, really is crap and needs to be rewritten or completely deleted and never, ever, ever, ever, ever resurrected?
Here are a few tips from my personal experiences. Because I've written some doosies in my time, let me tell you.
1.) Crit partners are your friend. Get someone else's opinion. Still not sure? Find a few writer friends you trust to tell you the TRUTH and see if more than one picks up on it.
2.) DO NOT LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. Ever. Only see her when you're suffering from the "my writing stinks and I need to just quit right now" syndrome. This could apply to any family member who knows nothing about writing but is just in awe of the idea of you writing a book.
3.) Cut the part in question... paste it into a different document... write something different. Is it better? Then WOOT! Is it worse? Maybe the original wasn't as bad as you feared... It might not always work, but sometimes a different perspective on what it could be helps bring you full circle.
4.) Enter writing contests. Oh, I know. Contests are hard. I've had my own personal love/hate relationship with them. Half of the feedback is, "OHMAGOSH why aren't you published????" And the other half is, "Why in the world are you writing at all???" Somewhere in the middle is probably around the truth. But if you're getting 3 low scores... or 2 low scores and one medium score? Then you probably need to grab a few more craft books and keep trying. But if you're getting two good scores and one crap score? Well, someone might have a case of sour grapes or red-pen-itus.
5.) Do you break all the rules? You know those things that are really guidelines because they are breakable all the time? No adverbs.... no "feels" word... show don't tell... YES... they are guidelines. They are not hard fast rules, because we do need an -ly word every now and again. And somethings just need to be told and moved on. But are you breaking the rules A LOT? Are you constantly justifying your rule breakage as "okay" because it's a guideline? Then your writing probably is suffering.
*note* If you're looking at me, jaw dropped, and being all like, "WHAT?? We can't use adverbs?? There are.... RULES?" Then you probably need to do a pretty good sized edit as well after you've brushed up on those guidelines.
6.) Put it aside. Wait a week. A month. Or heck, even a year or more if you're still in the early stages of your writing journey. Then bring that puppy back out and see what you think. Time tends to let the dirt, if it's there, settle to top. Then it's much easier to vacuum up:-)
And my last note on how to tell that your writing stinks...
You know that rough draft? That draft you've slaved over for weeks/months/years depending on your writing speed?
You can pretty much assume that it stinks like rotten eggs and needs to be edited. I've found, at least for me, if I go into editing knowing that I'll have to use some Lysol and Bleach, that I'm better prepared and am more likely to find the stinky spots instead of being surrounded by a load of Air freshener that just masks the nastiness.
On that BRIGHT note...
How do YOU know when your writing is less than stellar---when it's time to keep editing instead of submitting?
Have you ever written something that you decided was too stinky to be deodorized? Where you able to move forward without too many tears or were you relieved to be able to finally take off the nose plugs?