As my own writing has progressed, I’ve begun to take greater notice of other people’s writings. “I could have done that better” or “If I were the one writing that, I would have done it differently.” Things like that. It’s arrogant, I know, but it’s hard to stop myself. I put myself in the shoes of the writer and think about how I might tackle the story if I were writing it. Subtle changes and major changes, or maybe even admiration for a turn of phrase or story twist or description that really stands out as the work of a superior writer. Writing my own stories has given me a great appreciation for writing that’s well done [in a variety of mediums], but it’s also made it a little harder for me to bear inferior writing.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of the latter going around. Some of the things that stand out to me are the overuse of cliches, the reliance on disembodied narrators, and an overall sloppiness or laziness with regards to writing. Not everything can be a masterpiece for all time, but why can’t writers of books, TV shows, and movies put a little bit more effort into their works? I almost wish that I didn’t get so worked up about that sort of thing, since it would make it that much easier for me to enjoy the kinds of stories that now make my blood boil. But that’s how it is and I have my own obsession with writing is to blame.
But there is an upside to all this. I’m able to see the pitfalls that trip up other writers and I remain conscious of those things when I’m writing my own stories. By seeing things that I don’t like it other writers, I’m able to purposefully avoid those things in my own writing. Does it always work? No, unfortunately it doesn’t. I’m sure I’m making some of the same mistakes, but it’s certainly less than if I was paying attention to what other people were writing and the way in which they write. And this plays directly into why it’s so important, if you’re a writer, to READ. Reading exposes you to writing good and bad, let’s absorb techniques and tricks, and helps you to better understand what works and why. Writing has definitely changed the way I think about a lot of things.
I just hope that no one’s looking at my writing and saying “Wow, this guy’s terrible. I’d never have written that.” Haha.