5 Reasons You Think You’re a Mediocre Writer and Why You Are Wrong
 Image by Antina Wolff from Pixabay

We all live believing things that may or may not be correct. From immense faith in our abilities to confidence-crushing self-doubt, life moves around navigating a suitable path. The problem with the world is that a fool is always over-confident, and the wise is uncertain. Writing invokes similar emotions, and the writer often lives doubting their art on the pretext of reasons natural to human behaviour. The problem is our expectation of being exceptionally good right from the word go.

I am not the one you would idolize as a great writer but perhaps a tenacious one. My writing skills are subject to scrutiny, and multiple leaks need plugging. I am a firm believer in going from bad to good, or we’ll call it decent. 

While trusting your abilities is the ideal way to back yourself, writers often believe they are mediocre or bad, whatever you might term it. Just like any other skill, writing requires patience, failure, honing, and settling. You won’t know how good you are till you get rejected, crushed, and called out for shitty writing.

Writing is a lonely process, and while you can become part of groups and follow other writers, the art itself demands solace. The flipside to writing is that we take it all upon ourselves to find answers to everything. The process is taxing, and self-doubt creeps in. 

Even the most self-assured writers go through this, making it a normal occurring. 

There are many reasons writers feel mediocre sometimes and why they may be wrong.

Comparison with established writers

Writers have this inherent desire to compare their work. It is natural, I’d say. Perhaps, it took you hours to brainstorm and then churn content. The demanding process of coming up with a topic, title, and research to rain words on paper or your device is exhausting. Finally, you produce the masterpiece, confident of it being the best around. 

Snap, you read some article and lose it. You got hooked and kept reading, and all this while thinking if your piece is close to the sheer brilliance of the one you just read?

It’s downhill now, and nothing seems to be pleasing you. Nor the article nor your research and effort put into it.

The problem is our expectation of being exceptionally good right from the word go. 

The first book or an article you ever write won’t come off brilliantly. If you compare yourself to established writers or peers who have been there longer and have more experience, you’ll be frustrated.

Lacking conviction

Having ideas and executing them are poles apart. There are two theories that I can think of here: some writers lack conviction in their writing abilities, while others lack faith in their opinions or beliefs. Either is a problem and makes life difficult. 

We need to work in tandem with both of these. Confidence in writing skills with conviction in our belief brings out the best of a writer. 

We all write because we’re coerced by a dream and inspired by the world around us.

We write to bring change.

A critical part of the writing process is to connect with people, compel them to think and incite action. Writers want to help the world to see a new perspective. 

When you lack conviction, the idea of change doesn’t hold up. Your words convey very little. The written words to bring optimism and hope end up fading and living their death. 

Feeble voices don’t ring in the changes. When you don’t trust your opinions and beliefs, writing becomes a formality. The produced content merely gives an insight into the vocabulary and your writing skill. It never brings out the emotion and vision you envisioned. A voice inside coaxes you of being weak and that your opinion doesn’t matter. Self-doubt engulfs and makes you vulnerable to sharing your thoughts with the world. Even if you do, uncertainty prevails. 

The loop of ambiguity never lets you unleash the real emotions, and you end up distrusting your skill.

No fancy job titles

Imagine joining some big corporate firm at the starting of your career. 

The process is a simple one.

You study and get some degree, and basis your interview and credentials, you are hired as some executive or some role.

From some small-time executive to a manager and level up, you keep making progress with the grade and titles.

Even if you aren’t good or the best at your job, there is a steady movement across roles and positions typical to corporate culture.

You often compare but the satisfaction of some role or title mitigates that to a certain extent and keeps you grounded.

The thing about being a writer is that you have no fancy title or some ladder to climb. You aim to make a living out of writing, and money is an outcome of your progress as a writer, but you begin and end as, well, a writer. You are only a writer even if you become hugely successful. 

Your entry-level, as well as top-level job as a writer, is writing. The career progression in terms of the title makes a few writers jittery. 

The problem begins with our title comparisons because writing is all that you have. You write, and even the top writer is writing. The comparison becomes natural. We often expect ourselves to be the top writers since we are doing the same thing, writing.

At work, bifurcation and accountability happen with peers. So, being a manager, you would compare with a manager, but comparing with writing peers (technically doing the same work) breeds inferiority because someone is doing it for ages. 

No formal training

Writers who’ve made it big are the ones who slogged and kept slogging till they became experts. The love for writing is paramount to success. I am not against any formal education or training that you might think of obtaining, but against the idea that it is a prerequisite to becoming a great writer.

Writing is an expression and translation of your emotions into words. It is translating the idea in your brain into words that make sense, and the entire process needs basic writing skills and clarity of approach. Anybody with a knack for writing and elementary writing skills can become an exceptional writer.

The problem marring writers today is that they believe their lack of formal training is a hurdle. Even if they write well, they don’t trust it due to a lack of formal training. Moreover, you struggle, write, edit, revise, write and verify, eventually improving.

“Harper Lee was a law school dropout.” 

“John Grisham received a degree in accounting.”

“J.K. Rowling is a BA in French. She wrote her first book when she was of age 6.”

There is more to writing than formal training and degrees. The art is exclusively dependent on your determination and consistent approach. The more you write and read, the better it gets over a period. Go for the fancy degree, but the degree alone won’t get you anywhere if you lack a writer mindset.

Neither the idea nor the words that come out will be perfect. The writing process is inherently flawed because it’s a rarity that we can match words with the specific ideas in our heads.

Regular rejections

While being rejected is a crucial part of growing and maturing as a human being, writing takes it to a new level. From the rejection of ideas to publishers rejecting a piece consistently, it takes a heavy toll on morale as a writer.

Most give up after a few early rejections, not realizing the importance of this process. Sometimes it may be improper formatting, syntax, writing, while not being correct fitment for the publisher is another reason for rejection. 

We tend to inflict misery upon ourselves by giving up too soon. We start with high spirits, and when reality strikes, we chicken out and hide behind those rejections. 

Rejections hurt. As a beginner or a freelance writer, when some publication or a client rejects your work, it sucks. Perhaps, we take it all wrong due to indifferent reasons. We equate rejection with time, effort, and the thought behind our work, while a rebuff can be due to various reasons, fitment being a prevalent one. 

Since rejection is a common hazard of writing, it takes off steam for some, and writers begin to doubt themselves.

In conclusion

If you dream to succeed, you’re going to have to believe you’re a writer. Not just on the outside but from the deepest core of your belief system. All the discussion above clearly shows the problem is in the head. While we fancy success, it’s the hard part that takes us to the top. You are as good as your belief and efforts.

It’s high time we stop doubting and start believing in ourselves. Not meekly, but with determination and a firm conviction. 

You’re going to have to trust the unknown and the part of you that is scared to believe.

Below are few great articles waiting to be read by you.

My Two Cents on What Separates a Remarkable Writer From the Rest

Your Thoughts Will Stop You From Writing: Fight Back