Take Some Pride in Your Work

prideI have a headache.

A pain, like somebody thrust a spear through my right eye and forced it out the back of my head.

This pain is not a migraine.

It’s not a tumour.

It has no medical-based cause.

It comes from reading stuff sent out into the world before it’s ready.

It’s tantamount to sending a six-month-old foetus out into the world and expecting it to thrive.

You see, you’re only as brilliant as your reader’s capacity to understand you.

So your premise could be mind-blowing. It could, in fact, be the most brilliant idea that’s ever been conceived in the history of brilliant ideas. But if you send it out half-cooked, poorly articulated, or badly punctuated, then it means nothing.

Any narrative is a guide providing the reader a tour through the story. The tour itself might force the reader to think, might be disturbing or thought-provoking, it might be hard to digest and you might even wish you weren’t taking it, but at no time should it be incomprehensible.

Your writing’s not going to win readers over on potential. Some people just don’t get this. They think their writing can be horrifically punctuated and the grammar appalling, but that their idea is so mind-blowingly brilliant, that they themselves are so mind-blowingly brilliant, that it doesn’t matter, we’ll forgive them, love them, and love what they’ve written.

Uh uh.

The majority of readers will not persevere with writing that grandly suffers any (let alone all) of these flaws. What it really demonstrates is that the author hasn’t bothered to put all due care into their work, so why should we bother investing our time into it? Why should we read something that’s going to require constant deciphering? Life’s too short.

And taking this further, why am I going to invest again in you as an author? If anything, in a situation like this, you’re only damaging your own reputation – your own brand. If you’re running a business, and releasing literature of this quality as a promotional tool, you’re not likely to win clients, because you’re writing is going to be a reflection of you – if this is how you write, how do you conduct business?

If you’re a baker, would you leave your pastries on muddy shelves? If you’re a carpenter, would you sell chairs with uneven legs? If you’re a plumber, would the pipes you fix constantly leak, or pump water to the wrong places? If you’ve answered ‘no’ to these questions, why would you treat your writing any differently?

The advent of e-publishing has made it is easy for people to self-publish. Digital publishing has made self-publishing cheap and simple. But just because publishing has become so accessible isn’t a reason to not take the utmost care with what you’re releasing. You need to polish it to a standard that people won’t be complaining about punctuation and/or grammar, and will thus be free to focus purely on content.

You have one chance to make a first impression. Screw it up, and many won’t give you a second chance. Those who do will be harder to win over, waiting for you to trip up.

Take some pride in your work.

Don’t send it out in the world until its ready.