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Worried you aren’t a good writer? The answer lies without.

triumphantTo be clear, this might be the most shallow post I’ve ever written.

Recently, I was asked to look through some writing samples that had been submitted by a wide range of people hoping to get a gig. I was both appalled and thrilled as I sifted through them.

Appalled. Honestly, I can’t believe that there are people out there who are this bad at writing and still dare to call themselves writers. Seriously. If this is your idea of a good sentence, “Dogs and cats is friendly animals that kids like especially.” Then you have a serious problem. Also, this format: *intro with a thesis sentence that outlines 3 major points and conclusion that restates the same thesis sentence and the same 3 major points* hasn’t been cool since junior high.

Thrilled. Yes, I’m going to say it. This made me feel good about myself. I can write! I thought. I really do add value! I really am worth what I charge! And, yes, I used another person’s utter failure to lift my spirits.

So, when you go to elance and see that Edwin55 charges $5 per article and promises to get it done super fast or when a client returns a first draft with comments triple the word count of the article you wrote or the phone just doesn’t ring and the email doesn’t squawk at you or someone laughs at your proposal – you just call me. I’ll send you some crap that will boost your ego and make you feel so damn good about yourself and your writing ability that you’ll be back to thinking you’re golden in a heartbeat…or at least after a little gloating.

Image Credit: Marcaprice

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • I writes good and cats is well friend for kid.

    Also, I should point out that I was required to write the standard thesis, body, and conclusion style papers during my undergrad work.

    On the other hand, I have to admit it does make you feel good about yourself when you read some stuff that others write.

    I don’t know if I’ll ever be a professional writer. It is a hobby of mine and I want to do well so I give myself challenges and ask for critique, but I still feel pride in what I do.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Really, Nick? Where did you go to college? I was dissuaded from that at my school (Middlebury). Anyway, you’ll not that I didn’t say that the format wasn’t used beyond junior high – just that it wasn’t cool. Big, big difference. ;)

  • Edgy Mama says:

    You totally can write, girl.

    You should see some of the press releases I get every day, written by paid “writers,” that suck. And are rife with errors. In fact, here’s just a tiny piece from one I received yesterday: “…announcing it’s first annual art show.”


  • monica says:

    Thank you for this, I feel better already! :-)
    (and btw you are a wonderful writer. I love your style.)

  • Ed says:

    Writing is a frightening thing. A writer puts herself/himself out there in the great blogosphere, hoping that success will come showering down like torrential rain. But there are writers out there (like you) who are really, really, really good. It makes a writer wonder if he/she is good, also. The secret to good writing, I am convinced, is reading. And then reading more. That’s why I read you.

  • Love it, love it!

    The Clients Who Know Best – specially love them. Had one recently who, after a protracted exchange of “comments”, copy length over-runs, and illiterate rewrites, insisted – really – on putting this headline on a piece of paid-for editorial: “[NAME OF BUSINESS] prove there is always room for improvement”.

    Perhaps we should start a Cheer Up a Copywriter Today blog devoted entirely to stellar examples of complete crap…

    And yes, you can write – supremely well. And I reckon I’m pretty damn good at it too! Let’s indeed all give ourselves a pat on the back for the festive season!


  • --Deb says:

    It’s absolutely appalling, how bad some of the writers out there are. Forget about keeping there/they’re/their, its/it’s, or your/you’re straight, they seem to be clinging to the English language with their finger tips. The fact that some of them may be using English as their second language? Good for them, it’s better than I could do in French, but… the people who grew up in English-speaking countries? Oh, my, it makes me weep.

  • KatFrench says:

    I’m sure that some of it is ESL-related, but I know an awful lot of people born and raised in the U.S. whose grasp of written English seems suspect at best. But they’re convinced they should be writers.

    These, I think, are people whose family and friends don’t know how to “speak the truth in love,” to borrow a phrase from the ecclesiastically-minded.

  • At this point, I could use some of that cheering up……

    I think I writes good!

  • Ari Herzog says:

    Write or write not. There is no try.

    You writes good Julie. ;)

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    Hey–it’s not shallow. As writers, we’re probably the most beaten up, bruised, most criticized (yes, I just said the same thing in three different ways–because I wanted to make sure not one person missed that point) people on the planet. As a result, we constantly struggle with self esteem issues and either need nice friends to tell us that we are awesome several times a day or we need to read some bad writing. That makes me realize that someone could make $ starting an awesome hotline. Just putting it out there.

  • Hey Julie.

    That is pretty entertaining. I like the way you labeled your reactions by how they were with ‘Appalled’ and ‘Thrilled’. There sure are folks that are lacking in skills, and yet who are still parading that lack of skills around. They find out eventually though.

    Cool example there about eLance.

  • Few realize how deficient our education in grammar and writing can be – and that often applies even to graduates of elite
    colleges. Unfortunately we aren’t usually aware of what we don’t know – only what we do know – so the mistakes of others are glaringly obvious while our own are not.

    How poor our writing skills truly are became painfully obvious during my decades at IBM when most administrative employees were laid off. That forced Managers to write their own correspondence in the new PROFS system which was basically an in-house email system. Even though most of them had Masters degrees their writing skills were often very poor.

    PROFs included a function to test whatever you wrote for grade level with the recommendation that we not use any words beyond eighth grade. That seemed strange to me because pretty much all IBM employees that I would interact with had at least a Bachelor’s degree and Managers were usually required to have Masters degrees.

    I used to run that option for entertainment value – just to see what words I used would be considered “too advanced” to include.

  • I just noticed that you are using one of my photos for this blog post. That is me trying my hardest to look triumphant (Arc de Triomphe in the background get it… you do? Good.)

    Anyway nothing much else to say except now I have found your site. You can carry on now…

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