Writing and Publishing

How to Deal With Bad Writing – Yours

This week I pulled out something I wrote and published a decade ago. I wanted to repurpose it into a shorter, updated piece.

My old work shocked me. It was ponderous.

I used big words that no one ever wields. I constructed long sentences – the kind where you forget the beginning by the time you get to the end. I employed a passive language. It was bad, at least by my standards and skills circa 2013.

To my dismay, my words didn’t serve my reader but strained to elevate myself. I hadn’t written to help others but to call attention to my writing. The subtext of my ungainly message was to parade my vocabulary, intellectual ponderings, and academic style – not to educate, entertain, or enlighten.

It was painful to read.

I could have felt the sting of embarrassment over my novice ways and immature style. I did not. First, I couldn’t change what I wrote. The printed page doesn’t allow edits or do-overs.

As they quip in school, it was part of my permanent record. Second, even though it makes me shudder now, some people did like what I wrote then. They enjoyed my style; they appreciated my insights; they found value in my prose.

Instead of dismay, I celebrate what I read from my former self. My decade-old words prove, without doubt, that my writing has improved. I’ve grown as a wordsmith. My style is coalescing into something worth reading, words that are honest and real. I’m comfortable with where I am now and glad for the progress of my journey.

The only way I might have mourned my past writing would be if I hadn’t improved at all if I was no better today than I was back then.

In another ten years, I hope to read this piece and shudder again, realizing it was not nearly as good as my writing will be circa 2023.

May it be so.

May we always strive to improve our writing.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.

By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.