Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Why my work is disappointing (and why I'm still not giving up)

I’m not really a quote person. I can’t remember a favorite quote for the life of me, even though I certainly read a lot of wonderful sentences and phrases that I wish I could remember two years later (or--let’s be honest--two days later).

But when I saw this Ira Glass quote on Pinterest, and actually took the time to read it, I was struck. Something snapped together in my brain and I realized that this exactly describes what I’ve been going through.

I love to write, but my biggest frustration with writing is that nothing I write is ever as good as I hope it will be. I read through it and I can see the flaws and cliches, the dulness, the missing spark of life that seems to come so naturally to my favorite authors. My words don’t have the ring or rhythm that I desperately want them to have.

Sometimes I think I’m just too insecure. Maybe it’s not so horrible and with a little work, it could be pretty good. But when I really examine myself, I have to conclude that I don’t really know how to improve my work. I’ve taken writing classes, I’ve read the works of the greats, and I feel like I’m still at square one. I keep writing and I feel like I don’t get any better. Really; I’ve read my work from two or three years ago, and I despair that I don’t seem to have made much improvement. My ideas are still so-so, my word choice is bland, and my organization is mediocre.

I can write an attractive research paper and a pleasant literary analysis, but when it comes to the kind of writing that really matters to me, I still constantly disappoint myself. The words don’t come easily to me; my first drafts are dull and cliche, while my attempts at improvement end up sounding affected and unnatural.

So what’s the answer? Will I never be a brilliant writer? Or do I just need to take more classes? Read more books on writing? Listen to more TED talks? Pin more inspiring quotes on Pinterest? Pray for a miracle?

I’ll be doing all those things, believe me, but I think Ira Glass is right; I just need to keep writing, no matter how annoyingly amateur my writing is, and trust that someday I’ll create something I can be proud of.

It’s a frustrating answer. But most answers are.


  1. And surround yourself with people that will pay you to greater heights! I find is way easier to write when you have other people around you who are struggling through the same issues.

    1. And by pay, I mean push. Silly "smart" phone...