You don’t have to be the most eloquent writer on the block to write well. You don’t have to possess an incredible vocabulary, be a fountain of knowledge or know every nuanced rule of grammar.
Unless you’re writing to impress other writers or literary fiends, basic prose can accomplish a lot.
If you’re writing online, you probably want to either inform, entertain or inspire your audience. Ideally you’ll try to accomplish two or more of those at the same time.
So how do you know whether your writing is effective, or if it simply sucks?
How your audience reacts is one way to measure. If they share your work, leave comments or email you directly, you know that your writing struck a chord.
When your writing is great, people will praise you. Your readers will tell you how much you touched them, how it felt like you “read their minds” or that they shared your article or book with everyone they know.
The problem is, when you’re just starting out, you don’t have an audience to judge the reactions of. You never know if your writing is good, yet undiscovered, or terrible and repellent.
There is one way to know if your writing sucks when you’re just starting out. Ask yourself this question:
Are you boring yourself with your writing?
This question is the canary in the cole mine for writers. If you’re boring yourself, there’s little chance you’re wowing your audience.
Once you find yourself bored with what you’re writing, it’s time to run for the exit and search for a different mine to excavate.
Keep in mind, if you aren’t boring yourself with your writing, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s good stuff, but at least you’ve checked that one crucial box.
Next step: get an outside opinion from someone you trust. Ask her point blank what she likes about what you’ve written and what she would improve.
When I started this site, I had several conversations with my former high school English teacher to figure out what I was doing right, and what I was doing wrong. I’m not the most eloquent writer in the world, but she helped me use the tools I do have to accomplish my goals.
What about you? How do you know if you’ve written something great or something mediocre? Have you ever gotten an outside opinion?
Have you ever bored yourself with your writing?