What makes a good piece of writing and it's not what you think - Dale Darley
What makes a good piece of writing and it's not what you think

What makes a good piece of writing and it’s not what you think

When does a piece of writing go from being a piece of writing to a piece of writing?


Don’t be. We know that first drafts are often considered rubbish. Every writer, who has ever been honest with themselves will tell you that they feel the same. The truth is that they are often not rubbish, they are in fact pretty good, and as a piece of writing, they just need a bit of tarting up.

Don’t believe me?

Stop what you are doing and write an article, the first 1000 words for your next chapter or a blog. And if you absolutely cannot write, remember this writer’s block is rarely about writing, it is often something else that is going on in your life.

Let it flow. It is when it flows from the heart that you get the pure essence of what you are trying to say.

Ok. It may be messy, clunky, not your best piece, but the truth is you got it out and now you have something to work on, and that is good, right?

But you may wail, how do I make it into something worthy?

Don’t touch it – get your hands off!

Reflection. Silence. Nothingness.

Your desire to fiddle and meddle is strong when you want a perfect piece of writing or a perfect something. I can remember going to a painting class my impatience destroyed my painting. I will admit it was a pretty dull landscape and my full attention was not in the class, but even so, I fiddle and to much hilarity, it was seriously binable. Don’t let your writing suffer in the same way.

The magic comes when you leave well alone and go and do something else. In those other moments, connections are made. Sit in silence, go for a walk, meditate, breathe in emptiness and wallow in nothing. For any kind of writing, I get my best ideas in silence.

Scribble, doodle and colour in

The seemingly aimless activity of doodling or scribbling allows you to go into a meditative state. Even better colouring a mandala with a keyword or message written on the sheet is a powerful way of unlocking your unconscious. Try it and keep a pad of paper by your side, you will get lots of aha’s while you create colourful patterns.

Mandala heart 1

Read something else

I love delving into a good bit of fiction when I am writing as it allows me to explore ways in which others write. Losing myself in the art of story and fantasy is delicious, as is a bit of trying to work the plot out.  In fact, I am somewhat obsessed with reading because I want to know what happens next while guessing what the twist is. This helps as my mind is allowed to escape from what I am penning and explore.


Let your imagination have the freedom of your mind to connect with your reader

While cogitating on your novel challenge myself to a bit more creative meandering. Bring to mind your ideal reader – what do you know about their characters, culture, where they live, eat, do, wear, what systems and processes they have in place, how they communicate, etc. Then let go.

Be your best critic

So that’s the creative meandering over, and it’s time for some work.

When you come back to your writing piece, read, reflect and rewrite. Look for repeated words, long sentences, ways in which you can bring your writing alive. Don’t settle for what you have, know that alchemy is about transformation. When you remove the elements that don’t work, add in words that sparkle and take time to ponder, the dots will as if by magic join together. Use something like Grammarly which will cause you to stop and think about your writing with its helpful comments like ‘you have a squinting modifier’ or ‘a dangling preposition’, and it will certainly tell you that you have overused words.

You have to be your best critic because if you don’t, someone else will.

Persevere, it will be worth it. However, remember there is a time to let go of being perfect and publishing. Being a critic is one thing, letting go of critical judgement is another. Critique, do your best, publish and learn. Yes, you will miss something. Yes, the Grammar Police will spot a no-no. But here is the important thing – you wrote, you reflected, and you brought your writing alive in the best way that you could. Congratulations.

Writing is a muscle, and the more you do it, the better you get, and like those pretty yellow shoes that you fancy, not everyone will love it.

If the writing bug is calling you and you would love to be a part of a group where we cover, journaling, creative life writing, plus memoir and personal story come and join The Writing Zone. In the Writers Lounge, you will be supported and have lots of fun.

PS: There are mandalas and writing prompts galore in The Writing Zone.

Come into The Writing Zone

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Dale Darley

Strategist, Coach, writer and author. Helping you to make sense of your ideas and personal stories so that you can create simple strategic direction and design the right products and services for your business. Mum to three dogs and a family of swallows. Life without cake is a life unlived.