You Can Know If Your Writing is Good
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You can know if your writing is good. And writers need to know their work has merit. Yet, it is a puzzle for most creative people. What criteria do you use?
Most writers have self-doubt. They write a paragraph, and then they stop and analyze it. It takes courage to be a writer. You can banish self-doubt and determine for yourself if your writing is good. Here’s how.
Rejoice That Your Writing is Bad
We start with the awful truth. Everyone is a bad writer when they begin. So, rejoice in that. At least you are putting words on a page. Most people only dream about writing, but you’re actually doing. But don’t expect to be perfect from the start. Why?
First, because most learn to string words and sentences together in schools from teachers who often have few creative sensibilities. As a result, too many students think reading and writing is a form of punishment.
But reading and writing are not punishments. They are the secret joy that gives meaning to everything.
I’m not going to assail teachers who are lesson-plan or standardized-test centered rather than being student-centered.
I’m just going to suggest you take every opportunity to encourage children to write whenever you can. They may not get it in school, so they need to get it from you.
Read their stories. Encourage them. Tell them they have the potential to be great authors someday if they keep at it.
If you would’ve received that kind of encouragement when you were young, you’d probably be a better writer today.
Good Writing is Not “One and Done”
First efforts at writing are bad because too many new writers have a “one and done” expectation. They think their first effort is their final effort.
They don’t understand that a first draft is just that− a first, rough draft.
So, it’s improbable that a manuscript will be good until you put it through multiple revisions to improve it.
James Michener, the popular 20th-century novelist, understood this. He said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
Writing is not so much about writing as it is honing your work by rewriting it until it is as good as you can make it.
Writing is more like the craft of wood-working. You start with a plank and you turn it into a beautiful piece of furniture. Writing is a craft that you learn and improve as you write.
Diamonds are another good analogy for writers. When mind, diamonds just white man’s shape rocks like many others. However, the rough diamond is cut and polished and tell it becomes something unique and valuable. The first draft of any book or article is just a diamond in the rough. It always needs to be cut and polished, and there is no exception to that.
The point here is that the bad stuff you write will become better over time. You can’t write well until you write junk first and improve it.
Here’s a writer’s secret. Later, your good stuff will seem like junk to you and you’ll want to improve that too. That’s an excellent sign that you are mastering the craft of writing.
Ways You Can Know if Your Writing is Good
How can you tell if your writing is any good? I mean, your first work likely won’t be any good for the reasons I mentioned, so how do you measure your level of writing craftsmanship.
Let friends and relatives decide
If they say it’s good, then it’s good. You don’t believe that I hope. I’m joking. You know your mom is going to tell you that your writing is good even when it’s bad.
And a jealous friend might tell you your good writing is bad.
So, having friends and relatives read your stuff is a bad way to find out if your writing has become good.
Acceptance of your book by a mainline publisher
Is that a mark of good writing? Such acceptance doesn’t prove anything. They have accepted plenty of poorly written books.
Worse perhaps, your book may be great, but an established publishing company rejects you. They may turn you down simply because they have exhausted their budget for your type of book. That has nothing to do with the quality of your writing. The older classic Gone with the Wind was rejected by 40 publishers. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 publishers.
So maybe these mainline publishers aren’t the best ones to determine if your writing is any good.
Steady Amazon sales
Many self-publishers think their writing is good if they regularly get sales on Amazon or elsewhere. That’s a purely economic view. It’s not entirely without merit, but you must remember that bad writers sell their stuff every day. Both good and bad writing transcends sales figures alone.
Are you going to be satisfied being a so-so writer even if you sell books? That’s a question you’ll have to answer for yourself.
Writers are perpetual students of their craft and the best ones usually want to write good stuff, not bad, no matter what sales may be. Your goal is to pass the acid test and still sell books.
The Acid Test To Know If Your Writing Is Good
There is one way to know for sure that your writing good. I don’t want to go voodoo on you, but knowing is aesthetic and psychological in nature.
Why is that the case? Because all good writers—all the best writers– share one major characteristic, in my view.
That is, they are able to enchant their readers.
Enchantment is defined as, “a feeling of great pleasure or delight.” Or, “being under a spell or magic.”
You know you are a good writer when you are able to change the mental state of your readers.
That’s the main purpose of all fiction and nonfiction. You want to transport readers to a different place in their minds.
When you have the power to take them from where they are mentally or emotionally−to the place where you want them to be, you have gained mastery as a writer.
The End of Self-Doubt
You can know if your writing is good. When do you know you have become a good writer? It’s the day when you start enchanting yourself with your own writing.
You read a page and say, “Did I write this?” Indeed you did. Once you enchant yourself like that, you have the power to enchant others.
Work at improving your writing skills until you can enchant your readers. When that happens, you can know if your writing is good.