A writer’s guide on how not to write. You’re welcome.

Olga Mecking
Written by Olga Mecking

I am not an accomplished writer. Far from it. In fact, I always wish I could have written this or that piece better. I always wished I could have found better words to describe what I feel, my joy, my rage, my delight, my anxiety. I often wish that my words would obey me instead of me having to bow to them.

 I am, however, working hard and learning to write better, to be more creative with my words. I still don’t know how I want to write, or how I can write.

Therefore, I wouldn’t give advice on how to write because I am just not there yet. But I think I am learning something and that is how not to write.

I have made mistakes and my blog posts have suffered greatly. I compiled this little list of all the things you shouldn’t do if you want to be a better writer, and all the things that you can do to ensure your writing sucks ALL THE TIME. 

1)      By all means, over-schedule yourself. Write several articles all at once, mostly under tight – but self-imposed deadlines. In addition, try to take care of children, a household, go to work- preferably full time. Multi-task. Your writing will suffer and so will you. Of course some busyness is good, but go above and beyond busyness into exhaustion and resentment. You will never write again. Or your writing will become so bad that you will just stand and stare, and consider awarding yourself a medal for the world’s worst post.

2)      Undersell yourself, and do so strongly and convincingly. Write for anyone who wants you, and also if they don’t want you. Obviously, write for free, or the promise of “exposure.” Believe in the simple fact that you’re worth less than you are  really worth and make this clear when talking to possible sponsors, advertisers, or anyone who could influence your writing career in any way.  

3)      Stay warm and cozy in your comfort zone. Stick to what you know. If you have a formula for writing, follow it. For example, on my blog, I usually write posts that are very correct and show all perspectives and points of view on an issue. It is fine with me; after all I do not want to enrage my readers. Correct is warm and nice and safe, but it is also boring sometimes. And I find that when I stick to being correct, my posts lose that sparkle that keeps readers interested and engaged.  So please, by all means, take my example and write dull, boring, utterly forgettable blog posts. Don’t work too hard on your writing, lest you actually learn something and you don’t want this to happen, right?

4)      Ignore your editor’s advice. This is not something I do, because my editor on BLUNTMoms is fabulous. If my editor tells me that I need to change something in my posts, I go and change it. I am endlessly grateful to actually have an editor- or should I say, an editoress. Her advice is very valuable and makes me a better writer. So if you have a good editor, fire her right now and only edit yourself. Make sure to leave the typos, unfinished sentences, or words that don’t make sense in the final version when it goes live.

5)      Write when you’re exhausted. I don’t know how many hours I spend late at night, sitting in front of my computer thinking that I need to write something, right now. This usually has two possible endings: one where I give up after a few minutes and go to bed and another one where I torture myself until I write something. The first option is usually the better one. With the second option, I often need to rewrite the whole piece anyway.  

6)      Don’t bother yourself by doing research, or at least some soul-searching- depending on your topic. Without the soul-searching, your post will be skin-deep and meaningless. Everybody will forget about it 5 seconds after they have read it, if they read it at all. Without the research (or if you do research on some totally weird websites), it will help propagating some useless or even dangerous myths or untruths and may persuade someone to try dangerous treatments, behaviours or diets, which is probably even worse.

7)      Pretend to be someone you’re not. Once or twice, I tried writing a funny post- or should I say, a post I thought was funny. Our editoress came after me and she was absolutely right. That post wasn’t me. It was someone I thought I should be. You just have to do the same- tell yourself you need to fit in with your audience, and write for advertisers, instead of creating good content. Sit back and watch your creativity die a long, painful death.

8)      Start writing as soon as the idea begins forming in your head. Of course, there is a lot to say about writing spontaneously, but I find that when I write it down like that, the post lacks any depth and is extremely one-dimensional. My choice of words is poor and the whole thing requires heavy editing work. However, when I wait till the idea is fully formed in my head, the post is almost good to go after it is done, and it takes less time. So- you have an idea for a topic- write it down and then just leave it there, and make sure you don’t edit anything. 

9)      Show no interest in what others have to say. Don’t read blogs or articles, and especially don’t read books! Ignore negative comments as mean or troll-y- some are that of course, but in many cases people are actually right and you could learn from them. Sometimes, your belief in something will be corrected and sometimes you will find out something new. Just because you don’t like their comments, doesn’t mean that they can’t be right. Worst of all, some learning could happen and you don’t want that. Just smile, and ignore. Or sit in the corner, cover your ears and sing: “lalala” so you wouldn’t hear any useful advice.

10)   Spend all your time in front of the computer. Forget about having a life, a family or friends. Forget about food. Forget about the whole world outside of your window and write, write, write. Soon, one of two things will happen. Either, you will run out of ideas for blog posts or articles, or you will starve to death, get buried under a pile of laundry and dirty dishes, and your husband and children will forget that you exist. I am not sure which one is worse.

11)   Compare yourself to others. I tend to do this a lot. There are several bloggers that I admire and I find myself thinking: they are more successful than me. They are better writers than I am. They can write about things that are off-limits to me. They have more followers. And so it goes. Not only does it make me miserable, but my blog suffers as a result, because it takes my mind off writing. And it also negatively influences the good relationship I have with these bloggers. It is just amazing how sometimes one simple thought can pretty much ruin your writing.

Follow these simple steps and I am sure they won’t only turn you into a horrible writer, but make a miserable, sad little person out of you. You can tell me in the comments what helps you write better- or worse! And if you don’t like this post, I will just say that I like to lead by example. 

About the author

Olga Mecking

Olga Mecking

Olga is a Polish woman, living in the Netherlands with her German husband and three children. On her blog, she writes about the challenges and wonders of the expat life, but on BLUNTmoms, you will read her musings on parenting, people and life in general.

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