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When Everything You Write Sucks

When Everything You Write Sucks

There comes a point in every writer’s journey where every idea, every sentence, every word seems to suck. When writing is no longer sunny meadow frolicking, but the Cliffs of Insanity.


The first thing to do is remind yourself: Every writer ever in the history of the world has been where you are. Everyone has hated their writing at some point. Or multiple points. Or pretty much all the points.

So. Keep that in mind. Give yourself permission to suck. That’s what it’s all about.

But if you are desperate for new ways to move forward, there are some methods you can employ to get back in the grove. Below are a few creative writing tips for methods I’ve tried in the past.

Start an idea journal.

Make a journal just for your ideas. Don’t take them too seriously, don’t commit to any of them—just throw them on the paper and move on. Eventually, you might just stumble onto one you love.

Buy a prompt journal.

I’ve never found prompt journals particularly helpful, but they are good for one thing: They make you write something and leave it. If nothing else, this can help you keep the wheels turning. 642 Things to Write Journal and The Writer’s Block: 786 Ideas to Jump-Start Your Imagination are some fun ones.

Do something different.

Throw your comfort zone out the window and do something completely out there.

Play in a different genre. You like fantasy? Try doing something contemporary. You like adult fiction? Try some middle grade.

You write novels? Do poetry, a short story, a novella. Even if nothing award-winning comes out of it, you might just find you actually love what you never imagined doing. Alternatively, by discovering what you don’t want to do, you can figure out (or reaffirm) what you do what to do.

Rewrite a fairytale.

Retellings are great because the basic structure for your story is already there. Bam! That part’s done. You don’t have to come up with the bones, you just get to slather on the meat. (Okay, that metaphor got weird.)

Put a spin on one of your favorite stories. Beauty and the Beast with dragons. Twelve Dancing Princesses in contemporary Pakistan. Goose Girl on Mars. Mix it up with The Odyssey in Africa. Or dig up some obscure Welsh legend and make it your own.

Whatever floats your boat. Take something old and turn it into something new.

Read more, watch more.

Sometimes when passion for your own fiction lags, it’s because you haven’t been delving into the wider world enough. It’s amazing how art done well can inspire you to try your own hand again.

Find new stories to love, but also return to those that inspired you in the past. You know what I’m talking about–the movies and books that left you bouncing/crying/ecstatic/crushed. Reconnect with these, and let their momentum fuel enthusiasm for your own projects.

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