When Your Writing Sucks

The past few days have been terrible writing days. Not in terms of wordcount, though. In terms of pure output, I’ve chugged out 8-10k since Saturday. But a lot of what I’ve written is just downright bad.

I’m working on two novels, Lineage (the sequel to the upcoming Birthright) and the as-yet-unnamed steampunk serial novel. 3k of my writing was on the steampunk project, and I just knew that my writing partner was going to hate it. Hate it. Hate. It.

And the rest of my writing has been working a character in Lineage into a confrontation that his entire narrative in Birthright was leading up to. And when I got to that point today…it sucked.

Straight up sucked.

So I put aside Lineage and went to meet Austin for lunch and chapter reads. Turns out, he really liked the way I had handled my steampunk chapter. Overall, we had very few notes for one another today and sat around chatting about other things and where we wanted the novel to go after we finished volume 1 in a few weeks.

That left me energized to come back and figure out what was wrong with Lineage. I’m not saying I fixed it, but I’m on the road to doing so. I took out a lot of the talky-talky that was bogging down the encounter and replaced it with flying and slashing and pretty damn cool sword fighting. And already, the encounter feels more epic.

But here’s the important take-away from all this: when your writing sucks, keep writing until it doesn’t.

Don’t run away from it, don’t cry all night while listening to Dashboard Confessional, and don’t think you’re bad at what you’re doing. You’re not.

You just have to put on your big-boy pants and realize that not everything you type is revelatory. Writing is a craft, not an art. (Storytelling is the art, by the way.) When you mess up, cut the crap, think about out you’re doing wrong, and as Chuck Wendig says, figure out how to unfuck your story.

Just don’t give up. Everyone has bad days. When your writing sucks, keep writing until it doesn’t.

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. Writing is a weakness of mine, but it is necessary every week for my job. Reading This was encouraging. Thanks. Well, enough of Facebook. I need to go unfuck my sermon.

  2. I agree with you. We just have to go on until we get it right. Stopping will never get us anywhere.

    A quick breather may be enough, but we should not make a career of it.

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