Indicators During a Writing Session That It is Not the Best Work


Photo by Thom Milkovic on Unsplash

Hi SEers, John is with you today. It is a brand-new month, and I hope it is a great one for you.

As you can see, I’m going to look at some of the indicators that demonstrate a writer is not doing the best work. This post is a companion to my last post, which gave indicators of doing good work. You can read that post HERE if you missed it.

Oh, there’s a hand up. Yes, do you have a question?  “Don’t you think writers know when they are doing good work and conversely when they are not doing such good work?”

That is an excellent question. I do think writers know how their work is progressing. But since they work alone, my idea is to give little hints on how it is going without relying on a third party. This helps a writer catch a trend and either continue it if good or stop it if it is not so good. So, with that introduction, let’s get to the Five Ways You Know Your Work is Not Up to Your Expectations

1 If you would rather be reading e-mails or doing something else, you can believe that your writing is not up to your expectations. You don’t have to read what you have written to know it won’t be your best work. Your heart isn’t in what you are doing, and it will show. You might be better off taking some time to read e-mails or whatever activity you would rather do and then come back.

2 If you are concentrating on fixing mistakes or typos, you are projecting a degree of productivity, but your eye is off the ball. As a result, your writing probably won’t be up to your expectations. Correcting typos and mistakes is proper to do but at the right time. That time is after the brilliant prose is complete. If you are doing more fixing and less writing, you can bet the writing is suffering.

3 If you can’t wait for the writing session to be over, you already know your writing will not meet your expectations. Most of us hate to continue what we know is work that is less than our usual quality. We don’t necessarily recognize when it is time to call it quits for the day. I’m suggesting that no matter how much you have written if you feel like quitting, you should. Those words written after wanting to stop generally are not worth keeping.

4 If you try to write and know you need to be doing something else, you can bet your work will suffer. There isn’t a writer alive who hasn’t tried to sneak in a writing session when they should be doing something else. Those writers also know that what they have written will fail the expectation test when reviewing. Writing time needs to have a full-time brain to be productive.

5 If you are physically exhausted or have pressing issues on your mind, your writing will not benefit from your expertise. A writer might go through the motions, but the writing will take second place if the body is otherwise distracted. A rested body and mental equilibrium are necessary for productive work.

Well, there you have it. How about you? Are there some circumstances where you were sure you were not doing your best work? Did you continue, or did you call it on the session.? Share your story in the comments. Since this is Monday, let me wish you a good week.


67 thoughts on “Indicators During a Writing Session That It is Not the Best Work

  1. Pingback: #ReblogAlert! #Twofer #ThisWeekOnStoryEmpire & Sally Cronin’s #SmorgasbordWeeklyRoundUp | The Write Stuff

  2. Ugh, I am guilty of all of these, John. I am an edit-as-I-go writer but sometimes I take extra time correcting typos and reworking sentences rather than writing new ones. And then there are the times when I have to force myself to stay at the keyboard. I recently had a day like that. Fortunately, it came on the tail of several days of great progress when everything was falling into place.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can testify to the wisdom of all of these! It’s good to see the commonality of things we do that don’t help our writing or, worse, actually hinder it by requiring things to be unpicked before continuing. Recognising the need (in the copshow vernacular) to ‘step away from’ the words, is such a useful lesson. Many thanks, John.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All good indicators writing isn’t going well, John. Being in the zone everything around disappears, including time 🙂 I can still write tired though, maybe even better since I’m thinking less. Great post and reminder creativity can’t be forced!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent points, John. I’ve been guilty of pushing myself to write when my heart’s not in it for whatever reason. When that happens, my favorite thing to do is read. I’ll get a few chapters in and boom! I race back to the keyboard. Works every time. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. These are all excellent indicators, John. I think physical and mental exhaustion top the list for me. I tend to fix typos as I go. It’s just my OCD. But when I find myself typing words simply for the sake of word count, I am not in the flow that needs to happen. I love the tips for fixing these moments. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great reminders, John. When I’m distracted, tired, worried, not into writing, I shift gears and work in the garden, organize the garage, wash the windows — I do the things I might otherwise ignore. The results are visible, and I feel fantastic because of the improvement. And the next day is a new day — a much better starting point for writing. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’ve been guilty of all these things. I struggle with wanting to get things right the first time, so that often hinders my progress. While I do like to write “tight” so there is less editing, I have to remind myself, “Don’t get it right, first get it written.”

    On the other hand, if I write just to reach a certain word count, that’s not productive in the long run and as Staci pointed out, editing takes much longer. One reason why I no longer do NaNoWriMo.

    Great post, John

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I used to work for a story studio where word count mattered more than quality of words. It made editing much more difficult. There were days I struggled to get my words in, and I knew they weren’t quality words. When I went back to clean them up, it took longer. I can relate to your points. Thanks, John.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. Pingback: Ten Things Not to Do While Watching the Kids on an Inclement Day | Fiction Favorites

  11. Thank you for an interesting post, John.
    I am a compulsive edit-as-I-go writer, up to a point. Beyond that point, something is wrong. With me, it’s one of two things. Worry – and we all have that, so excessive worry – and physical discomfort. Today, my arm aches and I’m waiting for a wrist support to arrive, so this is the limit of my tapping.

    Liked by 4 people

Leave a Reply to karenringalls Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s