How to Know if You're a Bad Writer
BY GEORGE JI '23 & JULIA XIAO '24
What’s the worst part about being a good writer? No, it's not pretending to be humble—trust us, we know. The worst part about being a good writer is witnessing everyone else’s bad writing. But what do you know? The sad truth is, most of you out there are pretty terrible writers. After many long years of suffering through horrendous writing, we’ve created a list of the worst mistakes a writer can make. Here are six signs that YOU are a bad writer.
Reviewing and Revising: When editing other writers’ work, you always make sure to ruin it by making it more like your own writing.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, bad writers will often feel compelled to replace perfectly good writing with their own, thereby making it worse in every way for no reason.
Protagonist Vibes: If you ever find yourself saying “I’m the main character of my own story,” or “protagonist vibes,” when describing yourself, odds are: you’re not a very good writer.
Given that you’re not even remotely interesting as a person, nobody would ever want to read a story about you. Moreover, if you feel the need to say such things, it only further proves that your actual life is not worth reading about.
Painting a Picture: Artists typically don’t make for very good writers.
As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Those in the visual arts who write will often attempt to paint a picture using language. For even just a single scene, an artist will use thousands upon thousands of words to describe it, and as a result, they end up producing less focused, more repetitive, and ultimately worse writing.
Self Insert Characters: “Y/N is a thin 4’7” girl with honey-coloured orbs and three-foot-long glossy golden locks, she has no friends, the school jock always bullies her until one day he confesses to her?!
If you actually write these Y/N stories, there’s no defending yourself. I advise you to think of how you would feel if someone you know in real life finds out that you write these. Exactly.
Overusing Idioms: Nicely expressing your ideas and having these witty idioms simply kills two birds with one stone, right?
Nope. It’s not rocket science that not every cloud has a silver lining, and in this case, your “clever” writing is the opposite of a blessing in disguise. Bite the bullet, call it a day, and go back to the drawing board: it’s the last straw for you.
Random Punctuation: Nothing gives me a headache quicker than opening a two-page paper to see eight semicolons, six “however”s, and seventeen commas without a single period in sight.
When your paper has quadruple the number of commas than periods, it’s safe to say that you, in fact, do not know what you are doing. Come to think of it, maybe it was too generous to introduce this point by mentioning an overuse of semicolons, as it’s highly likely that at your level, you have never heard of them.
Feeling attacked? Don’t worry: recognizing the problem is the first step to recovery. Leave the darkness behind and join us on a journey towards better writing! Without further ado, let’s get started on “Ways to Fix Your Bad Writin”--oh wait, there’s no more room in this issue to continue the article? Keep an eye out for part two of this article in a future issue! In the meantime, make sure to join The Spectrum’s copy editing team for clear skin, good grades, and happiness.