It doesn’t matter how long you have been writing.
Some time or another the question pops up.
Suddenly, it’s not just a game or a little hobby that you spent some time working on. You really want to know: would people read this? Does it make sense? Would people laugh and question why I did this? Is this sentence clear? Is the plot exciting? Is this character relatable? Is the whole thing somewhat decent?
Is it good?
Writer friend, you’re not alone. I know I’ve challenged myself with this question numerous times. I can make myself feel so afraid. It can cramp every part of my writing dreams and aspirations because I look at my broken, messy words and see no goodness in them. A sentence might be fragmented, a character broken, or a description unclear.
“This isn’t good,” I say to myself.
But I want to tell you something, writer.
What is good writing? And how do you know if your writing matches up to that scale?
Has anyone noticed yet that writers keep on using the word good? I mean, how subjective is that word? If you just randomly look up what good is on the internet you get: to be desired or approved of. Even the definition is subjective.
Ice cream might be good to me but to someone else, it could be disgusting. (however, improbable) Even writing might seem like a good way to spend my time but to another person, they would never dream of staring at a blank computer screen trying to come up with stories.
For example, look at all the genres in the world! Sci-fi, fantasy, romance, historical fiction, the list goes on and on.
Let’s say you wrote a daring quest novel and asked someone else, who hates quest novels and would rather read solid nonfiction, if it was good. They probably would pass and you would be heartbroken. It’s not that it’s a bad story, that’s just not their taste. I have experienced this. I gave my story to a person who wasn’t in the age range and it just wasn’t their thing, and let them determine if it was good or not.
I am not coming to you and saying feedback is bad. I’m a solid believer that the best books are able to be read by most but even the greats are not loved by everyone. You should get feedback from all sorts of ages and readers but we should always keep in mind: who is this book for?
Where Are You Getting Your Worth
Writers can be very insecure people.
Think about it.
We put words very close to us on pages, talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve!
We try to string these messy thoughts into three hundred pages worth of prose. It’s a tricky job.
I know what courage it takes to share all this with people.
You know, the stress of reading it over again, and then finally giving it to a family, friend, or neighbor, and perhaps watching their face!
Me? I’m definitely a perfectionist.
So, before I give it to anyone (other than my sister, who is wonderful at telling me that my spelling is a little off) I want to make sure that everything is perfect.
Oh, and guys, there’s another tricky word. Perfect. It’s like that word: good. The truth is, only God is perfect. As broken humans, we are never going to produce something perfect. That’s another hard lesson. You can never get your book to be absolutely perfect. You can try but God has made it so you can use your broken words to create some beautiful.
Yes, we should aspire for the word good if it means that we want our stories to be approved by God. First of all, we should desire to give glory to God through our books, our stories, and our words.
So, where are you getting your worth?
In your words?
That should never be where our identity is.
First and foremost, it should be our relation to Christ.
What people say about our writing should not define who we are.
I know how hard it is though. Once upon a time, when I was very insecure about my writing, I shared it with a trusted friend, and they gave me feedback. Yes, they did encourage me but that all washed away and all I saw was the red pen on white paper.
I freaked out!
I was done with writing. I could never be a writer. Why in the world, did I ever think that I could do this?
Those are the thoughts that went through my brain. I was getting all my worth from my words that needed improvement! I thought that if this wasn’t perfect, then I really could never be a good writer.
Remember, you’re a writer but that’s not your truest identity. Don’t let fear of being good, scare you away from writing.
The Hard Truth
Not everyone will love your writing.
I said it.
It’s true. Not everyone will love it. Like I said, writing is subjective. It’s a hard job. One genre might be for you, but your neighbor might not like it.
It’s always the hardest when someone doesn’t get your vision but it’s good practice for when or if you go into the writing industry.
Rejection will come.
It’s not, “oh, I wrote a book, now everyone will love it”. I don’t mean to float your boat, but sometimes we have to hear the hard truth. Agents, publishers, and editors, are looking for things that speak to them personally. I am definitely not saying you should write what is popular. Write what you want to read but this is speaking back to where you are getting your worth. When you get that first rejection it will sting. Sometimes bad.
But writers have to have thick skin.
We have to understand that maybe this book might just not be for them.
If it’s someone who cares, let them help you decide how to change. Feedback is great! It’s not a sign that your writing is bad, trust me.
Also, remember how I said not everyone will love your writing. See, that’s not everyone!
For the small minority who might honor the work and style of your writing but it is just not their type, there are the people who will love your writing! Imagine when you see a review or find your book in the hands of a person who says, “this book changed my life”. That one person might matter tons more than the other voices telling you that it just wasn’t for them.
You Will Get Better
That is the truth. If you practice, practice, practice you will get better.
Good writing is a horrible phrase because it adds a standard that is so abstract. Yes, it is a good desire for grammatical correctness and writing that is clear but beautiful. But that takes time and practice.
If you’re writing sloppy sentences, and think will this ever end, keep writing.
Read. Study what sentences look like, how characters are fashioned, and how plots attract. This should be an encouragement! Imagine what your writer skills will look like in five years!
Feel encouraged, writer friend!
This is to show you that when you look at your writing and feel insecure, feel encouraged because one: good is a subjective word, two: your worth doesn’t come from that writing, three: you’ll get better and four: your readers are out there!
Next article I want to share with you tips I’ve learned about sharing my writing with others, what you should be looking for in critiques and what in the world beta readers mean!
Also, I want to go over taking criticism and feedback. Spoiler: constructive feedback does not mean your writing is bad! In fact, it means that it’s clay that you can mold into your story!
So remember, keep writing! 😉