What to Do After You've Written a Bad Article
We’ve all been there; we’ve all done it. You sat down, pen in hand (or keyboard beneath fingers) and let the words pour out of you. When it was done you felt like you had been holding your breath the whole time. You were infinitely refreshed and satisfied with what you wrote. Every time you reread it you liked it a little bit more. You imagined the praise you would be getting for it in a couple of days. And, without looking back, you clicked “submit.”
Suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly…) something terrible has happened. Your masterpiece- your baby- has not been met with the kind of exuberance that you expected. Instead, within a matter of minutes, people are rioting in the commenter’s section, wielding pitchforks and torches of counterpoint after counterpoint.
By now you must realize that it’s over. You are now a victim of “Poorly Written Article Syndrome,” or PWAS. Unfortunately, this disease claims writers from newspapers, magazines, and websites every single day. As of now, there is no cure, but there is hope.
If you’ve written a bad article, here are some steps, to help you on your road to recovery.
1. Admit your Mistake
They always say that the first step in fixing your problem is admitting you have one. Writing is no different. If you don’t admit you wrote a bad article now, they are only going to get worse. There is no shame in admitting you did something wrong, or that something wasn’t your best work. Learn from it next time.
2. Only Read the Comments if You Can Handle Them
Being able to take constructive criticism (constructively…) is a skill. Some people just can’t do it. If you’re one of those people, don’t read the comments on your article. Once you’ve read enough to know they’re not what you anticipated, don’t read on unless you can take it. You should always work on building up your confidence enough to where you can take criticism. Still, if you can’t just now, subjecting yourself to it can hurt you more than help you. Know your limit.
3. Keep an Open Mind
When you do read the comments, and you do see that people are clearly disagreeing with you, don’t shut your brain off. Really think about what they’re saying. This isn’t necessarily about conversion; no one said you have to change your stance on something. It’s more about putting yourself in their shoes. Rationality is relative, so remember that everyone’s opinion has some merit, even if it’s just to them. Try to understand where they’re coming from, even if you don’t understand how they think (and hope they do the same for you).
4. Don’t Apologize Unless You Mean It
This one is simple. Apologies are meant to be thoughtful and cleansing. Don’t taint them with deceit. If you’ve clearly offended someone, try to realize it and apologize to them, sincerely. (Though, as a general rule of journalism, it’s best to avoid being blatantly offensive.)
5. Keep Writing
This may be the most important step. It is also the hardest. It is insurmountably hard to get a screw-up, or an embarrassment out of your head. We surround ourselves with our imperfections, and we rarely see the good that we do. Keep writing, keep trying, and keep improving. One bad article does not make a bad writer, so don’t base your entire worth on one piece. There is no reason you should stop writing if you enjoy it. In fact, being able to keep at it, even when you’re surrounded by so much negativity makes you a better, stronger writer. Remember that the only person that can physically make you stop writing is you. No one’s words can do that.
April 17th, 2013 at 06:54pm
March 30th, 2013 at 04:20am
March 3rd, 2013 at 07:39am
December 20th, 2012 at 03:46am
December 18th, 2012 at 12:54am