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?

(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.