Tuesday 17 March 2015

What to Do When you Hate What You've Written by Adam Wallace #ChaBooCha

What to Do When You Hate What You’ve Written

Writing is awesome. It is so much fun to sit and write or type something out, read it over, and be rapt in what you’ve written. It might make you laugh or make you cry. It might make you feel scared. It might make you feel like you can make it in this caper.
Except sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes you read a piece of your work and you hate it. Like, seriously hate it. It doesn’t have the feel you were after. It’s dull and drab and goes nowhere. It was a brilliant idea that doesn’t come across at all!

Think this just happens to you? Think again.


Sure, it happens more to some people than others, but it happens to everyone.

So what do you do when you’ve written something that you hate? To me, there are a few options.

1. Put it aside for a period of time. Especially if it is an idea or theme that you are really keen to explore, put it aside. Leave it. Move on to something else. Stick it in a drawer and do not think of it again.

Except you will.

You will think about it.

Suddenly, and it may be weeks or months down the track, something will pop into your head. An idea. A thought on how you can fix it, make it better.

That’s when you take it out of the drawer and get back to work.

(P.S. If that doesn’t happen, if you don’t get a burst of inspiration, you can still get back to work on it. Or not. You can also just leave it there for some more time.)

2. Work through it. Some people actually enjoy working through that phase of hating a piece of work, digging deep into it and really finding out why it isn’t working, doing the hard yards to come up with a piece of work that they’re happy with. To them, the final piece can feel more rewarding, and they can love it even more because they hated it at one point.

This isn’t me …

3. Show it to people you trust will be honest with you. Yes men are not your friend when you’re a writer. Not if you want to improve, at least.

Let these other people read it. If you tell them that you’re not happy with it, don’t say why. Don’t lead their comments in a certain direction. Just let them read it and tell you what they think. Two things might happen here. One is that they may actually like it. Just because you hate it doesn’t mean everyone else will. Then you have a decision to make, because is there a point to producing a piece of work if you hate it? Even if others like it? That’s up to you.

The second thing that might happen is that they, with a fresh set of eyes, may be able to give you ideas that can turn the piece around. If those ideas click with you, well, that’s when it’s time to get back to work.

4. The last and final thing I think you can do when you hate what you’ve written, and sometimes this can happen before or after you steps 1, 2 or 3, is to chuck it out. Just chuck it. You don’t have to love and keep every single thing you write. If you do, if you cling to thinking every piece has to be brilliant, and that you and everyone else in the world has to love every word you ever produce, you will never move forward.

You will never become a great writer.

You have to be prepared to just let some things go and move on.

Some pieces are steps along your journey, and that’s it. You need to get them out of your system to free yourself up for what you really want to write, even if you don’t know it at the time.

And even if you chuck a piece, there may still be snippets of dialogue or description that you may keep in a notebook, or there may be a theme that you may still like to try and write something around later, but you don’t have to keep the entire piece.

There’s no rule.

Not everything you write has to be a masterpiece, but it is all part of becoming a better writer. And sometimes, throwing something out and letting it go will free you up to write something brilliant.

Good luck, and happy writing!

About the Author

A qualified Engineer and Primary School Teacher, Adam Wallace settled on writing books for children as his career of choice. With more than 20 published, including Better Out Than In and the How to Draw series, Adam is fast becoming a well-known name in the world of children’s books. You can find Adam's books at Adam Wallace Books and his Facebook author page here.


All you need to do, as a signed-up member of the Chapter Book Challenge, to enter into the drawing for "Writing Irresistable Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers" by Mary Kole is to comment on this blog post. (If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will need to click on the link that will take you to the actual post and then comment.)


  1. This is all very good advice.

  2. Putting a story aside usually helps me. Fresh eyes see more possibilities.

  3. I already have Mary's book so you don't need to add me in to the drawing but I had to comment on this sage post by Adam--excellent points, all! I write bad stuff every day--and I follow pretty much all these steps, depending on the level of bad writing. :-)

  4. Thank you! Great tips. I always write crap the first time around. It is part of the process a book goes through. I have Writing Irresistible Kidlit so don't enter me.

  5. I agree ~ sometimes things just do not flow or they don't sound as great when you go back to them as they felt when you first wrote them (and vice versa). I will put it aside for a while so I'm not trying to fix it out of emotion (which tends to make more of a mess) and/or will show it to someone for feedback so that my bias is out of the way ~ the added bonus (I've found) is that their comments will often trigger just what I need in an unexpected way.

  6. Great advice. (Although I did a major chucking of a whole bunch of manuscripts once and ended up regretting it!)

  7. Excellent advice, it is always much better to have words down than nothing, but you do need to take a break too!

  8. sometimes, even the bad stuff is... BETTER OUT THAN IN! good advice Mr Wallace!

  9. Such great advice. I've been stuck for a while on a book. Will definitely use your ideas!

  10. Great advice here! I am that person who loves to take something I'm not happy with and make it a challenge to make it better! Like you said, sometimes it's just bits and pieces of a manuscript that are salvageable!! Thank you for sharing your time with us!

  11. Great article! I've got one manuscript that I love.. the characters, the voice etc but it sits there thumbing its nose at me and giving me raspberries. It's been on the back burner for months and whenever I go back to it … more raspberries!!! I wonder if I can include the raspberries into the book, LOL

  12. Great article, I have written a few I didn't like, we learn from this.

  13. I'm so glad I'm not the only one this happens to :) The first week of the challenge was like this for me - it's sitting in a drawer and I'm working on something else :)

  14. Thank you for the post, great info!

  15. Nice to know that this is a normal phenomenon. Thanks!

  16. Great advice. Sometimes, especially new writers need to know it is okay to throw things out.
    Thank you.