Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What To Do When You’ve Written the Worst Book Ever

There you are, sitting down to start writing your novel. It’s exciting, but you’re scared too. You want to know what you’re capable of, what ideas you can portray and what ideas you can tell, so you lock that apprehension away and start typing.

As you’re going along, you begin to think to yourself, “hey, this isn’t so bad! In fact, I think I’m a halfway decent writer!”

And so you keep writing. Every once in a while you hit a snag in the story, find places you’re not quite sure what should happen next and you sometimes skip around from one part to the next. But no matter what, you keep focused on the thought of how good it feels to be writing and you struggle through. You push on to the next paragraph, the next page, the next chapter.

Until finally you’re done! You sit back from the keyboard after hours and weeks and months and years and years of sweat and tears have been poured into this story. Now, you set the story aside for a while, because that’s what the experts say to do. You go out and celebrate as you get some distance from your story.

Then it comes time for the first read-through.

“Oh, this won’t be so bad,” you tell yourself, remembering the story you were trying to write.

But then you actually read it with fresh eyes. And you feel like crying. Maybe you actually do. Because your story didn’t quite come out as you wanted.


You’ve just written the worst.



So what do you do when the above scenario is actually true?

First off, don’t worry.

 “The beautiful part of writing is that you don’t have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, brain surgery.” – Robert Cormier

I’m fairly sure every author has felt this way at one time or another. If not every writer, then you at least have me. Yep, I’m right in a rewriting rut.

“Books aren't written -- they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it. - Michael Crichton

Secondly, don’t quit. No matter how much it hurts, you can’t stop. That’s the one thing I’m absolutely positively certain of, if I know nothing else. Your first draft is meant to be ugly. It’s meant to sound stupid.

Just keep in mind that fixing it is supposed to be work, or else everyone would do this. Everyone would be a writer if it were easy. It’s hard so when we’ve finished we can look back at our journey and know we’ve really accomplished something.

And don’t ever forget these words of wisdom:

“If you’ve finished writing a novel you are amongst the elite! You are not a failure if you cannot live off your books. You only fail by not trying.” – Nadia Cornier

I, for one, am still trying.

How about you? How do you keep yourself going, how do you keep trying when you feel like you're getting nowhere with your writing?


  1. My current WIP started as a short story, which I thought was incredible when I first wrote it. Now I can't even stand to look at it. I guess it's important to keep going, though, because every time you change something it gets a little better.

    1. That's the way my WiP "Spell Bound" started out! I'm on the fifth draft now, and I'm getting closer, but it's still a long ways off. Just don't give up! That's the important thing.

  2. Great post - truth be told I still think writing that first draft is half the battle, even though editing may ultimately take more time. Of course, it's also the most thrilling part!

    1. It can be tough not to self-edit during that first draft, and that's probably the hardest part. Then trying to edit it all into the right order... that's a whole 'nother story!

  3. Hey Amanda. Where have you been? Happy to see you blogging again. My first book that I wrote during JuNo last year is that book for me. It is really bad. I decided to put it away and after JuNo this year, I am going to start over again and I'm pretty excited because I write so much better now then I did a year ago and its a great story.

    1. Hey Sydney! Thanks for stopping by - I hope I'll be around for a bit longer this time ;) I know I'm writing better than I was a year ago, but my talent still isn't quite "there" and that's been bothering me. I guess that's why they say practice makes perfect, right?


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