Writing is hard, there’s no doubt about that. But how can you tell if your scribblings and stories are any good? I’ve got three ways to help you figure out if you should keep going or confine your scribblings to the writing equivalent of singing in the shower!
First off, I should say that every single author I know goes through a stage with EVERY SINGLE BOOK where they feel like it’s all rubbish and they’ve forgotten how to write. It’s perfectly normal and the reason I share this to show you that even professionals feel like their writing is a stinking pile of crap!
If you’re just starting out, or you’re thinking about submitting, this fear can be absolutely crippling, so how can you know for sure you’re not wasting your time? Here are my top three ways.
1. You can see an improvement in your work.
First drafts are always rubbish and need things taken out, bits added in and scenes re-written all before you think about word choice and spelling, punctuation and grammar. The important thing is that you can see an improvement through each stage of the process and from one draft to the next.
If you can, then the chances are you’re getting better and your writing is improving.
I learn new things with every book and I don’t think we ever stop learning the craft.
2. Have others told you you’re a good writer?
And by others I don’t necessarily mean your mum or your partner (though if they’re harsh critics and they pay you a compliment, feel free to take it!). Here I mean others who are in the industry, either writers, publishers, aspiring novelists like yourself. If you’re a member of a writing group and someone has told you you’re a good writer, I doubt they’re saying it just because. And if people are repeatedly telling you, then you better believe them!
3. You just can’t stop!
Now this may sound like a platitude, but I absolutely mean it. I remember a line from Sister Act 2 (I know, it’s a classic) that has always stuck with me…
The amazing Whoopi Goldberg says to a young singer who doesn’t think she can make it: ‘If you wake up in the mornin’ and you can’t think of anything but singin’ first…then you’re supposed to be a singer, Girl.’
Now, I know I could have quoted from Hemingway or Stephen King’s book on writing but this is one of my favourite quotes because it’s absolutely true. If all you think about when you’re reading a book is how you wish it were your words on the page and your name on the cover, and you can’t stop scribbling or thinking of ideas, then you’re a writer and you just need to get on and write.
No book comes out perfectly the first time, it’s all about practice and learning the skills to structure character arcs and stories. Anyone can learn this with enough practice. You just have to keep going!
I hope you found those tips useful! Do you have any writing advice for someone who’s not sure they can do it? Let me know in the comments below!
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Ever since she left home Amelia’s been enjoying her new life in Paris and has lost contact with everyone in the small English village of Meadowbank. But with the surprise inheritance of her childhood home, Meadow Farmhouse, Amelia has no choice but to return home to discover the secrets of her great-aunt’s past and face her feelings for first love Adam again.
Can Amelia finally confront the past and find where her heart truly calls home?