To Be A Good Writer, Do Not Do This

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Never pretend to be something you’re not. People will see right through it and disregard your message.

I published a 6-minute story the other day. I would link it, but I deleted it (despite having spent a ton of time on it).


I tried to be someone I wasn’t.

I wrote unnaturally.

I forced jokes.

I got called out on it, too.


I want to start out by saying Reddit is absolutely ruthless. Everyone on there is anonymous and all bets are off — people will chew you up, spit you out, and stomp you out-cold.

Reddit is the ultimate critic and detector of bullshit.

I posted my story in a subreddit hoping to provide something of value or entertainment. I mean, isn’t that what all writers want? To be useful, inspiring, or entertaining.

My article did nothing close to that.

Here are some lovely comments people left me:


As a writer, this is like the worst shit you could ever have said to you.

“I couldn’t get past the first paragraph, it was so bad.”

(I told you, Reddit is ruthless.)

Can you imagine if people on Medium talked like that? We’re all too respectful and full of “character,” we never bash people for trying. But, in a weird way, I’m glad someone had the audacity.

It was what I needed.

Why I Deleted My Article

One might assume I deleted the story because I was embarrassed.

Okay, that’s only partially correct.

Honestly, part of me agreed with the evil commenters. Writing the article felt awkward — it was a stretch, I was pushing to sound a certain way. I was trying to write like someone else. I tried to be witty, urgent, and funny all at the same time. It came off bad.

I didn’t write it like I would say it (a golden rule in writing).

While part of me got away from myself, another part of me really wanted to push back.

I spent hours writing this, no way I’m permanently deleting it. Screw that guy, what does he know?

But deep down, part of me screamed “shit, he’s right!” Ignoring the article would have been the easy thing to do — but I deleted it out of self-discipline. I’ve written plenty of shitty stories before, but I never erase them because I put effort into them.

After all, someone might like them. (I can dream, right?) But this one genuinely didn’t sit well with me.

It was writers fraud.

Great Writers Are Themselves First

Let me be clear, I’m not suggesting you keel over and retreat every time somebody criticizes you and your work. If you write for yourself and publish your truth, never allow someone to take that from you.


I read from a lot of seasoned, well-spoken writers. I love when I read something insightful, full of interesting comparisons, tidbits, and references — I admire funny and the sincerity to make others laugh .

This is representative of every writer; we all have people we look up to and aspire to be like.

While it’s wonderful to strive, you can’t magically teleport. No matter how bad you want to sound like “something,” you can’t snap your fingers and make it happen. You’ll end up writing something like I did, good in terms of subject matter and mechanics, but awful and unnatural in delivery.

Be authentic; people can tell when you’re talking out of your ass.

Absolutely set goals and aspire to be a better writer — in time, you’ll grow into that. For now, just be yourself.

- AZ

Bored, uneducated, homeless — em dashes are my specialty. I write what I see, think, and feel. That’s it.

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Alec Zaffiro

Alec Zaffiro

Bored, uneducated, homeless — em dashes are my specialty. I write what I see, think, and feel. That’s it.

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