Posted in On Writing, Writing Rants

I Won’t Take Your Excuses

I cannot count how many times I have met “writers” who have no pride in their work. I’m not talking about the writers who keep their work private but the writers who write poorly and have no desire to improve their writing skills.

It irks me when I read a story that has no paragraphs to differentiate the dialogue or smooth out the flow of action. I cannot stand characters that all act the same. Spelling and grammar errors which would be fixed by using spell-check boggle my mind.

I realize that I am not a perfect writer and I welcome critiques of my work so that I might improve. Because of this, I always send a note when I read a piece that needs a big improvement to help with readability.

Some writers are wonderful and thank me regardless of if they follow my advice or not (1). However, some writers see a critique and automatically assume it is a flame (2). When this happens, the writer makes excuses for their poor writing and tries to degrade the commenter. I’ve made a list of my least favourite excuses in a file of things to never say about my writing. Because I have recently been labeled a flamer, I’ve decided to share my list with you.

“I’m lazy.” Or “I don’t have the time.”

It honestly does not take much effort to run spell-check. If you write in Microsoft Word then all you need to do is hit F7. Even if you write your posts in WordPress it is possible to check your spelling and grammar. In fact, WordPress automatically checks posts when you click the publish button.

I honestly want to ask people if one extra button really makes that much of a difference in their lives. I mean, are you malnourished and pushing the enter button to make paragraphs uses up all the energy you have? Are you so strapped for time that the few seconds used to put in proper punctuation makes a difference?

“I don’t care if I get published.”

If you write because you want to write, then you should want to write better. There is no feeling that compares to seeing how much you have improved. The strange thing, improvement is not reserved solely for published authors.

It is also difficult to believe that you don’t care about being published if you are posting your work online for strangers to read. If you put your writing online, you more than likely want people to read it and like it. The secret to getting people (who are not friends and family) to like your writing is simple, write well.

“You understood what I meant.”

When I read a response like this, I cringe. I liken these “writers” to people who expect everyone to speak English, even if they are in a country where the language is not English. They expect the readers to put in more effort than they do.

This is probably the most selfish excuse for poor writing that I’ve ever heard. It’s like telling your employer that you want to get paid but you’ve never done any work. It’s absurd and shows how little you care about your writing.

“I’m not perfect.”

Neither am I. No one is perfect. But just because you aren’t perfect, doesn’t mean that you can’t be the best that you can be. By saying that you aren’t perfect so you don’t try to be, you are telling me that you never dress up because you aren’t a super model. It is a ridiculous notion.

“Writing is more about emotion than grammar.”

Who says that you can’t have both? I’ve read many pieces that are filled with both emotion and correct grammar. If all you care about is emotion or plot and you disregard grammar and spelling, then you are like that one-dimensional character that no one loves.

If you use proper grammar and spelling, you can get the emotion across better. In fact, if a piece is well written, readers will feel the same emotions as the characters. If a piece is poorly written, readers have to be told point-blank what the characters are feeling.

“I wrote it a long time ago.”

I feel your pain with this excuse. I really do. In fact, some of my old pieces are very poorly written in terms of spelling, grammar and style. However, before I post an old piece of writing, I check it over. Sometimes I even rewrite the piece so that it reflects my new writing style.

The list of excuses is as long as the list of bad writers. These are just the excuses that really make me cringe and my thoughts on them. (3)

Are there any writing excuses that make you face palm? Do you make excuses for your own bad writing?

Footnotes
(1) If I give you advice, take it with a grain of salt. I’m not saying it to be mean, I’m giving you advice because I see something that can gleam like a diamond with a bit more polish. You also don’t have to take my advice. Don’t worry, my feelings won’t be hurt (well, maybe a little but shush).
(2) Flame – the term for a review or comment that is filled with negative words but no actual critique. For instance “This sucks” Or “I can’t believe you wrote this garbage.” Both of these are negative and neither gives the writer any idea of what the reader didn’t like.
(3) There are two excuses that I will accept for a short time. The first being a hospital visit and having someone else post for you. The second excuse is being completely drugged up, possibly from your hospital visit, and not realizing that you had posted the piece online.
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Author:

The AP Roberts is an extremely rare creature and there is only one known AP Roberts in the world. Usually off in its own little world, the AP returns to reality when it gets lonely. This elusive creature is rather difficult to catch on film, however will pose for drawings. The AP, though wild by nature, can be tamed and makes a wonderful pet. It should also be known that while the AP gets along with most creatures it has an intense fear of insects and large canines. The AP lives on a diet of mainly vegetables and candy but is not known to refuse food that is made and offered through kindness. The drink of choice for the AP is tea though it is known to drink water and juice. There is still much to be learned of the AP however, most agree that the writings of the AP are truly something to behold. Hopefully, one day the AP will find a good Agent creature who will introduce the AP's writings to a good publisher creature and the world will be able to read the AP's works.

6 thoughts on “I Won’t Take Your Excuses

  1. I have the same pet peeve. It bothers me when others enable this behavior, too, by refusing to ever provide constructive criticism, and instead just feel like they must always be 100% positive to avoid ever hurting feelings.

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  2. I love this post! (Now if only more people would pay attention to what it’s saying!) Constructive criticism is hard to both give and take, especially on the Internet, when you can easily misinterpret someone’s meaning or they can misinterpret yours.
    The “I’m lazy” comment kills me… it’s so easy to physically write or type something, but actually improving your writing and editing and revising is not a job for the lazy!

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    1. Thank you 🙂 I agree that constructive criticism can be difficult online. I think the main trick is to find a person or a group that you trust to go through your work first.

      Writing improvement is definitely not for the lazy. It would be nice if it was though. “My writing needs improvement? Presto chango! It’s now a best selling novel.” But I guess that I’ll just have to deal with editing for now. 🙂

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  3. 1) “I’m lazy/don’t have time:” Publishing takes time, and writing is not for the lazy. 2) “I don’t care if I get published.” Then why are you having your work critiqued? 3) “You understood what I meant.” Are you sure about that? And, even if you are right, your words shouldn’t be a puzzle that the readers have to figure out. 4) “I’m not perfect.” We aren’t asking for perfection, just proper English. 5) “Writing is more about emotion than grammar.” It takes both to succeed. 6) “I wrote that a long time ago.” Have you written anything since?

    PS, you often use “as well” to start sentences in this post. This is incorrect usage and also redundant. Can you vary your word choices a bit? 😉

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