Are You A Good Writer? How to Tell…



hello everyone Alexa done here and today I am going to be addressing a question I get a lot that is honestly pretty difficult to answer I really can't give you the answer but you asked a lot and that is how do you know if you're a good writer well this one is tough for many reasons which I am going to go over you know I'm gonna ravenclaw this one but starting off I know why you're asking why people ask all the time and that's that we're all kind of always so conscious that we're not good enough there's that thing called imposter syndrome and the good news is that if you're asking this question you actually have a shot at being a good writer because we're going to talk about something called the dunning-kruger effect which is those with the most supreme confidence that they're definitely definitely great writers are very often the worst we're gonna talk a bit about this and some of the questions you can ask yourself and ways to kind of evaluate whether you're any good but my disclaimer is that none of these are kind of hard and fast there's no magic checklists and I'm certainly not gonna sit here and tell you whether or not you're good or bad so let's talk about the dunning-kruger effect and the reason is what I so often see on the internet and in the world and you might have seen it as well is it so often the individuals who assert most pigheaded ly with the most bravado that they are amazing writers and how dare you and they don't have to listen to you and so on and so forth are often the least talented and this is the phenomenon called the dunning-kruger effect where the most confident are the least skilled but it is a curve starts up here we're like confidence and and skill level low but then basically as long as you go on the journey at all as you realize that you're maybe not as skilled as you thought and you were on your skill your confidence dips down and at a certain point kind of your confidence level in your skill level will meet as you begin to realistically assess your skills but then as you work on your skills your skills and your confidence will go back up never quite as astronomically high as that delusion over here but essentially that individuals who are very skilled at what they do have pretty good confidence in their work but also a very healthy dose of impostor syndrome the mere act of having impostor syndrome of questioning yourself of doubting yourself actually makes it more likely that you're any good and I just find this whole phenomenon pretty fascinating and it definitely kind of vibes with my experiences as a writer because I honestly feel very confident in my work I know I'm a good writer I don't think I'm the best writer self-doubt impostor syndrome it's very healthy but I know this because I've spent years working on my writing working on my craft reading other writing evaluating the relative value of what's good and bad writing so that I could improve myself and have a more realistic idea of whether or not I am any good and so I feel pretty confident you know on the scale that I'm I'm on the other side I made it to reasonably confident and reasonably skilled probably not the best healthy self doubt but I am no longer kind of on this end of the graph I don't know if I ever was on this end of the graph of being Megillah manically delusionally confident in my writing skills when I when I sucked maybe when I was the teenager but I mean I'll say I think a lot of writers do go through that and it's okay to go through that the key is getting out of that because if you never get out of kind of that delusional one where you don't listen to anyone you think that what you write is pure gold and you never try to edit it you think you barf out rainbows amazing work you're never going to actually be good and you won't make it and I can't help those writers it's why I'm often very flipping on this channel I'm like you know it doesn't really hurt me or affect me if you never work on yourself and never get actually good because yeah you're not good you know you're not a good writer when you're so confident that it's delusional but let's actually now talk about how do you evaluate whether you're any good and again then we're active attempting to evaluate this to question yourself and judge yourself means you're on the way so these are kind of the practical questions you can ask yourself and things to do and my first one is you should be reading a ton one of the best ways to evaluate engage your rating level relative to other people's writing levels especially professionally published work is to read a ton and this can be reading any professionally published work this can be journalism this can be nonfiction memoir it is of course fiction in the genre that you want to write you're reading a ton of it and over time you should start to develop a sense of where you fall relative to that work how close does your work – professionally published work or even just how close is it to work that you love and admire because as you know I advocate on this channel it's not always about like who writes the most beautiful amazing prose the next Great American Novel no very often it is just storytelling is there a good story and is there enough craft in the story that it pulls you along where does your writing rank along side that the next thing you can and should do you should be working with critique partners again you should be thoughtfully and critically engaging with your own work and trying to make it better and in looking for critique partners you want to ask yourself are the critique partners the other writers that you're working with are they good do you think they're good do you enjoy reading their work do they have skill level that you admire or even asking yourself honestly do you think you match it if you're evaluating their work to where you think it's good and you feel that you're on the same ballpark as then and you get feedback from them to that effect once you're close to them you ask them honestly what you they think about your work if they where they think you are this can help you to evaluate yourself the next thing is to gauge what happens with people who do read your book to whom you give your book to read this can be critique partners as well as beta readers beta readers not necessarily being fellow writers with whom you exchange work but what happens when you give your work to someone to read do people typically read through it quickly do you tend to get pretty enthusiastic genuine seeming reports this is why it's great to send your work to people who don't live you who don't owe you the truth so to speak when they give you feedback both positive and negative but including and especially the positive is it specific the negative to I guess specificity is good are they able to say oh you're world-building was really evocative it really pulled me in but I I was having trouble connecting to the main characters any specificity helps because any specificity helps you to diagnose your own strengths and weaknesses and work on your work so you can become good or better really and also kind of tied into this is when you are pitching your work do people generally get excited to read it and then when you give it to them do they actually read it readers not only wanting to read your stuff but actually reading it and then giving you genuine and enthusiastic feedback is a good sign it means you are writing work that is readable storytelling that is compelling engaging people get through it but if you find that you get ghosted a lot that people give you kind of faint vague praise like oh it was really great but they don't have much else to say about it if you have that sneaking suspicion that they didn't even finish it you might have a lot to work on and this doesn't make you a bad writer by the way it just means you need to improve and then of course seeking out better or more or different critique partners can help with this you can also extend this evaluation metric to agents if you are at that stage do you do pitch contest and get a ton of likes but then when you sends the query and the first 10 pages those don't turn into requests that indicates you've got a sexy pitch but something is off in the writing and again it's not just there that it's bad but it could be that your writing is too novice for that professional stage and really the title of this this video is a bit of a misnomer am i a good writer people ask that all the time which is why I did it but it's not so much about good versus bad it's about skill level craft level and kind of getting yourself to that professional publishing level regardless of what your publishing Avenue is another thing to look for again at the querying stage at the agent stage if you are querying and getting rejections when people are they personalised I'm going to be honest with you I had a sense that I had something on the page that I wasn't a terrible writer when I would get personalized rejections that were specific and encouraging that's a good sign that you have something but this particular thing isn't necessarily working and then the other practical thing you can do is to give yourself distance from your own work and then go back and read it you should be reading tons of other people's works and getting a pretty good sense of what's good versus bad you know or compelling versus boring and when you go back and read your older work you do need a bit of distance from it how does it breed to you do you enjoy reading your own work alright kind of embarrassed by it embarrassments actually really healthy being embarrassed by older work because it means you're improving and it means that your kind of judgment metric of what's good writing is you're getting there you're in that ballpark and you are able to kind of evaluate your own abilities and also your own growth and when you do recognize something that you wrote a while ago maybe isn't as good as you'd like it to be pat yourself on the back that you recognize that at all and it's very likely that your writing has improved and you are on the your kind of on the bell curve and you're gonna come back around to where your confidence and ability to evaluate your work actually matches your skill level another thing you can do is seek out mentorship opportunities this can include things like author mentor match or pitch Wars or other programs where you get someone who is a bit further along on a professional level to evaluate your work it can really boost your confidence to get personalized feedback that tells you what you have that is working versus what you have that isn't and just being selected means you're a pretty good writer of course not being selective doesn't mean you're not a good writer and this is also the problem with querying and all that jazz because it's so so subjective and so what you should take away from this entire video and all of the tips that I've given you is there's no magic answer all you can do is continually improve your own craft and writing and just over time you're going to get better at evaluating yourself and your work and the work of others and eventually you'll figure out whether any good and of course pursuing publishing also gives you a good sense of that whether that's reader feedback or getting an agent getting a book deal though nothing's a magic bullet impostor syndrome is real and is the flip of all of this and I will link you down below to my video on what impostor syndrome is and how to deal with it but know that if you're feeling down about yourself and your writing and questioning yourself you're doing okay let me know down below in the comments any questions you have or how do you evaluate what good writing is in your own writing was there a turning point when you realize like you got it you had it give this video a thumbs up if you liked it and I'll try to make more rambling and confusing videos where I try to answer questions but don't really huh if you're not already subscribed to the channel go ahead and do that I post new videos two to three times a week as always guys thank you so much for watching and happy writing

49 thoughts on “Are You A Good Writer? How to Tell…

  1. I'm unsure as to why anyone should expect a simple answer; I think few do the same for the question 'am I a good chess player'. . .

    . . . You just. . . Have a level (albeit with useful benchmarks).

    P.S. Cool videos. I know I am rather bad, but I guess that means the only way is up!
    Show less

  2. Fake it 'til I make it. Writing because I love doing it, no matter what the consequences…

    Son #1 read it in a few days, loved it!!!! Wanted my proof copies to give to friends!!!
    Son #2 couldn't get through the first chap, doesn't like to read anything
    Daughter #1 still working on getting through it, runs a large family daycare (12-14 toddlers every day, reading Fantasy is last thing she wants to do, not her thing)
    Daughter #2 didn't even bother giving it to her : / ; )

    Results: un published books piling up ; )

    Love your energy!!! I'll be back <3 TFS

  3. It was a dark and stormy night. Terrence watched Alexa explain how he could improve his writing. He contemplated thanking her, then clicked on the thumbs up button.

  4. Alexa, I'm spending time revising my first ever novel, I just want to know how long you should spend revising/working on it?

  5. LOL, I love your comment about the most confident writers. Talk the talk without walking the walk! That was great! Thanks for reminding us that sefl doubt is something we can use to our benefit!

  6. One of the best ways to become a better writer: work with a good editor. It's like what Alexa talked about with book critiques, only more so. 🙂

  7. I was wondering if you have a good source for finding critiquing partners? Also, how do you trust they wont steal your work?

  8. Me when i was eight
    OMG I am the best writer in the world!!!!!(I was writing a story about my stuff animals
    Me when I was ten
    I’m not a amazing writer now BUT soon(Before collage) I will have written a best seller
    Me now
    I’m good for my age, i guess

  9. Great video. I love watching all of your videos. I'm not sure if my writing is good or not but I have self-published my book on Amazon anyway. I edited it about 4 times and got people to read it for free. I have a few Amazon reviews but I need more just so I can get the book out there. When it first came out it got quite a few sales but now it has slowed down. It's book 1 titled The Biters to the start of a series called Time to Run series. Book 2 is due to be self-published soon. So, my question is How can a writer promote their own book if they have self-published it?

  10. I'm proud of myself for doing what I love 💕💕 because I spent years pursuing my parents' dreams

  11. I have really low confidence and self esteem about this and I always think that I suck at writing. Then I remember I wrote my first novel when I was seven and now I'm twelve, working on my 17th(I think) book and I feel better. Yet I'm still extremely insecure that I'm no good and I'll never be good enough, maybe the themes of my books are still too childish(Which they most certainly are not… They are so dark, sometimes I freak myself out), my characters are too 2D, that the romantic sub-plots are worse than Twilight, etc.

  12. Can we just talk about how underrated your videos are for a minute? Come on.

  13. I think reading fanfiction as well has helped a lot with my writing because now I understand what NOT to do in my writing. Sometimes I'll read a fanfic and not know exactly what's wrong with it but trying to figure out what's off ends up being a lesson I stick to in my writing.

  14. 1. Read,, wee where your writing stands
    2. Look for critique writers (ask yourself if they are good/what you want to achieve)
    3. Give your work to someone to read and wait for feedback (is the positive specific? The negative?)
    4. When pitching your work do people get excited and when given your work do they actually read it? You’re ghosted ir they’re vague, try again.
    5. Extend to agents if you have them
    6. Give yourself a setback then read your work again, distance and persoective helx

  15. Basically i haven't written anything properly for such a long time that I feel like I've REGRESSED as a writer. Maybe I should write something and find out.

  16. That Dunning-Kreuger Effect thing is fascinating! I think that's very true, in my experience.

  17. I always think my writing is lousy – but when I'm laughing or crying while I write – at least I love my peeps that make up the world in my books and in the end it seems the readers do to. Even though my sales don't always show it I do luckily get mail from my readers that give me the confidence to keep writing at .33 cents a book profit….ugh can we all just raise our prices together!??

  18. Not practicing = bad writer
    Practicing bad habits = bad writer
    Practicing good habits = the potential to become a good writer

  19. I find I'm constantly looking back at my old work and cringing. I'm hoping there'll be a point when I can look back and think I did a great job.

  20. It's kind of suck how school doesn't teach you about writing that much share tell you things here and there but never a higher education in writing so I have self-doubt of me.

  21. You'll know when you're a good writer when people tell you that you're a good writer. It's that simple. Seriously.

  22. So me taking out a prophecy given by a low class monster later in the first chapter and replacing it with the king of the western kingdom stepping out to be with the protagonist and the four guards at the door of the castle to help give some backstory to the protagonist earlier in the chapter wasn't just a spur of the moment, 'the story writes itself' kind of thing that I ended up liking more than the prophecy, then! Hooray!
    Still squatting at this story and filling back all the pages I accidentally deleted. Fun times. I'll get there, yikes.
    I've been subscribed to you for a while, and honestly, you're my go-to, when I need some positive-constructive advice about the one interest I've kept since I was six. Thank you, Alexa! <3

  23. I think hat my writing is horrible due to being bad at writing dialog.

    I am like very asocial person i varely talk to anyone in all 20 years of my life.
    I SWEAR.
    So dialog is one thing in wich i am.NOT confident due to my lack of socialization with others.

    The other mistakes i think i can improve them with some effort and lots of practice.
    But wished there is some book for isolated kids to learn dialog outside of anime lmao

    I am mexican so SORRY if i make mistakes on the grammar

  24. I think a great writer should not have self-doubt. He should have the humility to learn, but not think, “Oh, I am not a real writer.” You know you’re a writer or you’re faking it.

  25. While I have a healthy amount of faith in myself, I usually wait to hear what others say about my work, before I say anything. I'm not qualified to say how horrible or great I am. @advice_writing

  26. This is good stuff Alexa. Self-reflection is always important in order to get better as a writer.

  27. I really feel the same way… But hearing it from you is making me more motivated

  28. Do you ever get nervous when you let other authors (critique readers) read your stuff and worry they might try and take your premise and use it as their own?

  29. When I was writing my first book, I was very confident and at the same time I knew the reality. Kind of walked a fine line. Through self evaluation, I was able to finish my book only to erase the majority and make it better. Sometimes being brutally honest about your work helps you get better. I was proud of it and am now in the middle of my sequel. Getting better every day.

  30. Yes ! I love distancing myself from my writing. I always find more things I can fix or improve

  31. I am a very good writer. I know this because when I was in university nearly every time I wrote anything more substantial than my class notes, someone gave me awards or prizes for it. My problem is that I constantly question my plot points and spend an endless amount of second-guessing myself instead of submitting proposals!

  32. We all need a sustained string of the fumble to find our Bliss to borrow from Sarah McLachlan.
    Or as Confucius has shared:
    "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
    Great stuff Alexa.

  33. I know I am not a good writer but I enjoy writing and keep working on my skills daily. It's fun. Wish I had the skills.

  34. I'm a poet, I recently found out people consider me really good at writing poetry. And a couple days ago I thought "how about I just thinking of writing my story like how I think of poetry" and that click for me. It's not going to be a poem novel, but that idea really helped me figure out how to make my bland writing immensely more descriptive and lush. It's like two different pieces that I didn't realize were totally connected. Oh dear, I remember my middle school writing was really bad hahahaha. I still have it up on the website Quotev. And then before that when I was little and wrote in this one "Create your Own Character" Mortal Kombat game (it's in Armageddon) I had the character description section in all CAPS and full of "……"s for "dramatic effect" 😂😂.

  35. As a kid, I thought my wolf love stories were brilliant, then I started thinking I should never write a word because my writing is the worst, and now I've worked my face off for years honing my craft and writing, reading, revising, getting feedback, giving feedback, studying and writing even more.

    I still feel like I'm the worst, but I know I have to be a decent writer just based on the amount of hours I've spent growing as a writer. Sometimes I even have moments of actual brilliance, and oh wow that's amazing. I don't think the fear and doubt ever goes away though. I'll keep writing anyway.

  36. I was at my peak obnoxious phase when I was a teenager and since then I read a lot and wrote a lot more… and I think I improved like 10% but my self-confidence plummeted. I write a lot, I just can't finish anything.

  37. 12:44 I loved this bit so much. It was so funny, and I related to it so hard.

    This video was actually helpful though, thank you very much!

  38. It's a weird (and possibly flawed) metric. And it's possible I only think this because I'm still not good yet. But for years, when I first started to pursue a writing career seriously, my sentences lacked variety. Nearly every sentence began with he, she, the, then… etc. It was bland and boring.

    When I began to instinctively start sentences in other ways, focusing more on tone and rhythm, is when I felt like I was approaching professional quality work.

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