My Writing is Untidy – Does it Matter?

Writer-for-a-Reason Serena wrote in with a lovely encouragement last week, and a question at the end, which you might be able to identify with:

Since I’ve taken your advice to read, read and read, my writing has started to improve.

I’ve been following your writing tips nearly every morning and it’s now part of my daily routine.

I will also be hoping to start the course next week.

One thing I find difficult is how to understand what I’ve written as my writing can be a bit untidy with lots of mistakes and scribbling out. Is there any advice on this?”


I would suggest the following process for anyone who’s getting cross with themselves:

Make a list of as many ideas as you can think of, that you could do to help yourself. This list will be different for everyone! Serena’s list might include writing slower, using paper with wider lines, using a better pen, using a neat line to cross things out, typing instead of handwriting…

When you have a good list (don’t stop at one or two ideas – the best ones will come later down the list), choose one to start with, get to grips with it, then gradually include any other improvements you’d like to see.

This will help you be your best self!

But this is my best advice of all: BE YOURSELF.

Everyone is different, when it comes to writing stories, and there’s no right or wrong about how to go about your first draft. Some people will write loads of notes. Others won’t. Some will be tidy. Some won’t. Some will write on paper first. Others will go straight to the keyboard.

The important thing is to have a great story at the end! How you get there is up to you.

I write a first draft very quickly after writing chapter synopses, then spend months and months editing the draft. I also add pictures in the text and remove them later, if I want to see something in my mind, to be able to describe it properly.

Other writers will come at the whole thing very differently. It doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that you END UP with a gripping, thrilling, relevant story for your readers.

For some reason, we all think we must be going about the whole thing wrong, and that ‘other writers’ have it all sussed out. We don’t! Nobody does! Every one of us is unique, so embrace your gift, write like you, and don’t let anything stop you using your gift, your way. Don’t forget, only you can write your story, and someone’s waiting for it.

Trust that helps,

Janet Wilson, founder of Dernier Publishing


P.S. I keep meaning to write a bit more about the Write for a Reason Academy, and still haven’t got round to it. In the meantime, if you’d like to know more, click here. (We start again in January.) The course will help you make sure you are getting all the basics right. I have received too many unsolicited manuscripts that have potential, but things that aren’t quite right. It might be issues with characters, plot, narrative voice, the beginning, the ending… you will be looking at all these on the course, at your own pace. (This is why I set up the course – to help beginners write great stories their readers will love.) If you love writing novels for children/teens, or have that gnawing feeling that you have a gift, but need to get it to work, this course is for you. Over the ten weeks of the Academy you will gain all the confidence and the skills you need to write a brilliant story your readers will love! Hope to see you there.

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