Your Writing Sucks: The Harsh Truth from Someone Who Knows
Now, before you scroll past, thinking this post doesn’t apply to you, I implore you: Stick around. I DO mean YOU.
Every week for almost a year now, I’ve been using my knowledge and 23 years of editing experience to tell all you aspiring authors about the things you should be doing to write more, write better, and get published.
And you’ve been ignoring me.
So, today, there’s no more Miss Nice Coach Tara. It’s time to tell you the cold, hard truth and stop pulling my punches. And here it is:
Your writing sucks.
Don’t get all offended. The truth can hurt. But here’s the thing: ALL writing sucks before you do the hard work needed to make it worth reading.
The problem is, you guys are being lazy. You seem to think that your work is done the moment you type “The End” on the last page of your book.
Nope, sorry. That’s just the beginning.
Unless you’re willing to condemn your book to the bowels of Amazon, where (like the vast majority of self-published and poorly published books) it will never be read by anyone (except maybe your family and friends, who are reading it out of pity, not pride in your efforts), you need to listen to me now.
Let me say it again: Your writing sucks.
But it doesn’t have to.
Here’s what you’re doing wrong:
Harsh Truth #1: You think your work is done after you spend months (or years) writing your draft.
This is perhaps the biggest delusion in the writing community. You are NOT done with your book when you’re “done with your book.” On the contrary, you have TONS of work ahead of you.
As editor in chief of Blydyn Square Books, I get people all the time who send their submissions in . . . BEFORE THEY HAVE EVEN FINISHED WRITING THE BOOK.
And I’m not alone. I see other publishing professionals on social media all the time crying out in disbelief: “It’s not even WRITTEN? Why are you sending it to me?”
Let me say it again, because it doesn’t seem to be sinking in: When your draft (or most of it) is written, you are not done. You are just getting started.
If you can’t handle that fact, you might as well stop writing now because you’ll never have the character or grit that a real writer needs to get published (or even to self-publish successfully).
And that’s Harsh Truth #1.
Harsh Truth #2: You’re not hiring a professional editor to review and fix your work before submitting or self-publishing it.
Okay, so you’ve finished your draft, you’ve read through it (maybe), you’ve declared yourself a genius, and you’ve determined that your book is a masterpiece.
But you’ve forgotten the most vital fact: You are a writer, not an editor.
You don’t have the skill to revise your book. Hell, even if you ARE a professional editor, you can’t revise your own work. We ALL need a fresh set of eyes—well-trained, objective eyes—to do that for us.
So, don’t be lazy and don’t be cheap. If you want to get published in this day and age, there is no way you can skip this step. You absolutely MUST hire an editor to help you revise your work.
And you need to hire an EDITOR—not your aunt Shirley, not an English grad student you found on Craigslist, and not a self-published writer who has declared herself a “professional editor.”
Do your homework, find a REAL editor with years of training and traditional publishing experience in your genre, and pay her/him for the work. There’s no other way.
That, my friends, is Harsh Truth #2.
Harsh Truth #3: You’re not taking direction when a professional editor gives it to you.
No, I’m not talking about the way you’re ignoring me, here in these posts (though you really should be listening to my advice—it’s brilliant AND free 😊).
I’m talking about writers being resistant to the revision process—refusing to do the hard work it takes to turn a “draft” into a “book.” And it takes a LOT of work, believe me!
Let’s say you’ve landed a book contract or have at least hired a solid professional editor to work with you, but when your editor tells you that your manuscript needs changes, you balk.
Sorry, buttercup, but you are not Shakespeare (and truthfully, even old Will could have used some tweaking here and there—we ALL can!).
We editors do not make this stuff up. We don’t ask for revisions just for the fun of it. If we tell you to make changes, it’s because we know what good writing is—and we know what sells.
Listen to our wisdom and be willing to put in the work. Trust me—your book will be better for it.
Don’t be so stubborn that you’re willing to give up the prize of being published just to hold onto every comma, every adjective, in your “timeless prose.”
I once had an author actually give up his contract because he didn’t want to write ONE sentence—no joke, no exaggeration—to fix a gaping plot hole. (Guess whose book STILL hasn’t been published, over four years later?)
Your editor is there to help you. Pay attention, follow instructions, work hard, and watch your book become the thing of beauty you’ve always dreamed about.
Or take the alternative: Refuse to do the required revisions and become a bitter old loser nobody wants to hang out with (much less publish). No one likes a stubborn and lazy jerk.
That’s Harsh Truth #3.
I’ve said all this before (in nicer terms, maybe), but I hope that this time, my no-holds-barred truth-telling will finally make this information sink in.
Believe it or not, I want you to succeed. I’m here to help. And you—yes, YOU—need this advice.
So, learn it, live it, and for the love of all that is holy, put it into action before you send out your next query.