Who decides if I am a good writer? Recently I complained to my professor (who is an established poet) about not being sure if my writing is good. It was a part of an exercise where we judged good from bad. The point was, of course, not to be sure.
That got me thinking. How do I know if I am any good at it?
To solve this problem, he pointed out one major flaw in my questioning.
“Who are you comparing yourself to?”, he asked. Well, I read Marquez but my style is not even close to his. Some of my stories and my WIP (work in progress) novella are themed the way Neil Gaiman’s works are but still, nothing similar in style. Only things I can find in common with an established author like Gaiman is having plot with the similar structure, but so does almost everyone.
I enjoy from time to time something written by a Russian – not any, only a specific famous ones. But who would write like that today? Those days are gone. So, no it’s not them.
My stories have no similarity with any author. At least not enough so someone says: “Oh, I see this was inspired by…”
Well, if you ever ask yourself if you are any good, you should come to a conclusion my professor led me to.
There is no existing set of rules that you must follow to prevail. Writing doesn’t have a compass that will lead you to writing a good novel. You only have to write as good as you can – that will be enough!
See, the problem is, we have established rules and structures that novels have to have because that’s what readers expect. But, if you have the ability to come up with new solutions or are courageous enough to try new things, you might very well revolutionize your genre.
So, write the best you can, write as much as you can. Don’t compare yourself to someone you like because someone else will compare you to a completely different person. There is no point in comparing, then. But do the best you can.
Author: Mladen Reljanović
Mladen Reljanović is the founder and lead writer at Writer to Writers. He is the author of Oaktown stories, senior student of communication and a pianist.