How to Read Your Novel: Realizing It's Okay To Suck

3:36 PM Gemma Fitz 10 Comments

I suck at writing.

No, it's true. I suck. The words come out stilted and stupid or trip over each other and land in an illogical chaos. Kinda like that last sentence there. Only sometimes worse.

My novel is a complete rubbish heap of words. There are useless dialogue tags gushing happily everywhere, disturbing imagery at every painful, bleeding scene change, plot holes swallowing entire chapters of hard won text, and annoying characters whining through every step of the way. In short, it sucks.

And I've realized I'm okay with that.

This is the last post in my three part series on how to read your novel. You can find the first post here and the second here.

If we're honest, writing is one of those things you'll never do perfectly. Ever. If your works are ever published and on book store shelves and you deign to skim through the pages of your best-selling tome, constant face-palming is basically inevitable. You'll probably want to disappear off the face of the earth for awhile. (And, by the way, this is reason #463 why I should never pursue publication. I will anyway.)

This is super depressing to realize. Until you accept that it's okay to suck. (Okay, even after you accept that, it's still depressing. But not as depressing.)

You're going to suck. Your novel's got problems and you may think that a few more tweaks, drafts, years even, and it will be perfect. Right?


No it won't.

You could always make it better. You could always find another typo or replace another word or cut another character. Your book is set in Japan? Guess what, for the entire rest of your life you are going to be learning more and more about Japan (maybe from some enraged reviews of your someday published book). It's impossible to know it all now. You're going to get something wrong. And all the rewrites and revisions and edits and beta readers and line edits in the world aren't going to change that.

When you're reading your novel, give yourself permission to suck. Don't be a perfectionist about something that will never can never be perfect. Polish that story up as much as you can, but don't beat yourself up when it's not how you want it. Keep writing and getting better at it, but don't beat yourself up when you're not as good as you want to be. Try to get every word perfect, but don't be disappointed when you come back and the words aren't so perfect after all.

You're always going to suck-- a little bit.

And that's okay.

Well, wasn't that depressing? Do you think it's possible to write a "perfect" novel? Are you okay with sucking?


  1. Totally agree with this!! And I saw a Pinterest pin that said something like "you know why your book seems so predictable and dumb? Because it came from your head." And I think it goes perfectly with this!!

    1. That is such a good reminder. I NEED THIS PIN ON ALL MY BOARDS. Thanks for mentioning it!

  2. This post is not depressing; it's freeing. I'm a perfectionist with ocd which makes writing a painful task filled with insecurity and doom. Giving my writing permission to suck frees me up to write because otherwise I would never even be able to decide on the first word. Thanks for all these great motivational posts!
    And the comment above is awesome. I'd like to find that pin.

    1. Oh, I'm so glad!! I felt just a little bit depressed when I was writing it, but I always feel depressed, so that means nothing. :P
      I'm not officially ocd, and I'm only a perfectionist part of the time (the other part I'm rabidly careless), but I KNOW the whole insecurity thing. You just got to remember that you can be GREAT without being PERFECT.
      I know, isn't it? Me too.
      Thanks for commenting!

  3. YES. I always tell people this -- you're allowed to suck. Everyone sucks at writing quite often, and no one has it perfect. You're sucking less and less as you go on, and it's important to remember that, and also come to grips with the fact that what you're writing isn't at all perfect.

    1. Exactly. Even your favourite authors whose books are selling like crazy and who just seem so perfect totally suck sometimes. Everyone does, and that's not a big deal. Thanks for commenting!

  4. OMG, I'm so terrified that I'll triple research the cultures in my book and find relevant betas and do all the steps but still annoy some people with inaccuracies. Literally. Diversity is HARD. But giving ourselves permission to suck is definitely important. (I look back at my older writing and just -- ARGH.)

    Thanks for commenting on The Devil Orders Takeout!

    1. Oh, I really admire people who have the courage to even attempt diversity, because honestly, /I'm too scared/ to do it myself. Someone will always find some detail that you got wrong, and you can get in really big trouble. But honestly, IT'S WORTH IT. It's worth every mistake, because things like diversity NEED to be written about, and writing about it and getting it wrong is better than not writing about it all.

      You're welcome, and good luck with your stories!

  5. Well, for someone who is terrible at writing, this is a pretty incredible post! Hey there, just stumbled upon your blog and super glad for my clumsy feet, in this case ;) Wow! You are certainly talented, and have quite a bit of value to say. I simply adore this...great encouragement, honestly.

    Looking forward to sticking around for more great posts!

    1. Hey, we're all our own level of terrible. ;) Glad to have you here, and glad I was able to encourage you! Thanks for the comment!


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