Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bad Writers Ruin it for Everyone Else

There are a lot of people out there who want to be writers. I mean a lot. Dare I say more than want to be actors, singers and professional athletes combined. This may partly be because there are a lot of media which employ writers, so some may want to be print journalists while others want to be screenwriters. But I think the main reason is because everyone and their mother thinks they can write. Go to LA and I guarantee your Taxi driver has a screenplay.

I mean shit, there’s a lot of pure dreck that gets produced these days and a ton of people probably say “I can do better then that!” And sometimes you can. But most times you can’t. Most times you sit at your computer and pound out stuff that reads well to you, your mother, the old people you read it to during your community service hours and maybe your dog. Although he probably is just barking because you need to take him for a walk. But to everyone else, it pretty much sounds like a bad 11th grade English project. Unfortunately, what this venerable glut of bad writers does is ruin it for the truly talented.

Now, before everyone jumps on me for being conceited, no I am not explicitly calling myself truly talented. Do I have a well-read blog that I did nothing to promote? Yes. Am I regularly approached by people asking me to write stuff for them for money? Yes. Did I write my way into the Columbia School of Journalism with a 3.2 GPA, passable GRE scores and no professional experience? Yes, but I’m not going. It’s a lot of money. I’m not making any opinionated statements here. Just some facts. There are people out there who are better, some who don’t write anything but virulent emails. But I have had a decent amount of success for someone who has not done anything to pursue it. But enough about me, on to the bad writers….

What happens is that this plethora of shitty scribes send their God-awful efforts to publishers, producers, editors or anyone else they think might like it. And so said decision maker gets stuck with a steaming pile of shit on his desk. Then along comes a real piece of gold but sadly it is burined under this pile of shit and never gets read. And this, friends, is how so much crap gets produced. They simply don’t have time to read the good stuff.

The sad part is most of these talentless should really do think they have what it takes to succeed. Crap like drive, determination and a dream. No, successful writing takes only two things: Voice and Talent. If you don’t have both, quit now and let those who do have it get your face time. There are 37 million blogs out there and about 9 of them are readable. The sad part is it is a lot of these people’s dream to be a writer. It is their life’s work and it is a sad thing when your dream is just something you are not very good at. We see this every year on the first five episodes of American Idol, but sadly there is no such public weeding-out process for bad writers.

Even some who have had success are terrible. I had the occasion to read the Opus of a Miami Herald columnist who shall remain nameless and it was, by far, the biggest waste of half an hour I have experienced this year. And I watch a lot of Jerry Springer. It was, for lack of a better phrase, painful to read. As I scanned this sad effort, I put my sarcastic responses to his excessive and un-understandable metaphors in red for someone else’s amusement. It then dawned on me that this guy had put his heart and soul into what I was reading, his life and dreams. And even though he was a successful columnist this was his proudest work. And it was God fucking awful.

My point in using this guy as an example is this: It is all well and good to follow your dreams. But when your pursuit of your dream is keeping the truly talented from success, you are actually harming the rest of the world be trying to be “determined.” You are diluting the talent pool and a detriment to society. If you have been working at it for a long time and seen no success, maybe the world is trying to tell you something. Maybe its just not your niche. Try law school. That’s what everyone else does.

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At 8:01 PM, Blogger aikin said...

I majored in journalism (not at Columbia, unfortunately) and have had the "pleasure" of seeing some truly horrible writing! Often by so-called professionals.

I got out of the field because the pay is shit until you make it to the big leagues. It still makes me crazy to see apostrophes used at random, and people who don't know the difference between there, their, and they're. Even outside of Miami!

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So are you are blogger or a writer? I only ask because by your estimation only .000000243 percent of bloggers can be both.

At 10:02 AM, Anonymous LawyerWho'dRatherBlog said...

I don't recommend bad writers go to law school. They should probably bartend instead. It takes voice, talent and discipline to produce effective legal writing. Judges, like publishers, must sift through loads of dribbling legalese every day, as they too are often the victims of lawyers mistaking the court's night drop box for an outhouse.

However, if a lawyer remembers that most judges are human and like to be entertained just as much as the rest of us, he will infuse his legal writing with humor. This takes a tad of genius, because it must be the kind of humor that a judge will get if he's into that kind of thing, but will miss if he's the kind of judge who takes his job too seriously. And to be effective, it must take a jab at opposing counsel or his client without appearing to be an immature and unprofessional personal attack. Furthermore, since most motions and memorandums are written by junior attorneys, it must also be the kind of humor that appears acceptable to their red-pen-wielding bosses. Finally, it must be remembered that legal writing is a competition - your motion is up against opposing counsel's. If the judge is one who reads, the better writer almost always wins. Even when the legal proposition he's espousing is somewhat shaky.

The best way for an attorney to ensure the judge actually bothers reading his submissions is to develop a reputation for writing that is both entertaining and legally accurate. The highest compliment a lawyer can get is to find his writing duplicated in the written opinion handed down by the Court.

So, just like you'd prefer the bad writers quit polluting your chosen profession, us lawyers would prefer the bad writers stay away from our courtrooms.

At 11:01 AM, Blogger David in DC said...

Some people have a way with words.

Others not have way.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger ANON1 said...

Best song ever written:

Let the eagle soar,

Like she’s never soared before.

From rocky coast to golden shore,

Let the mighty eagle soar.

Soar with healing in her wings,

As the land beneath her sings:

'Only god, no other kings.'

This country’s far too young to die.

We’ve still got a lot of climbing to do,

And we can make it if we try.

Built by toils and struggles

God has led us through."

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


oh, and someone please euthanize LawyerWho'dRatherBlog

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quote: “I can do better then that!”

It should read: "I can do better than that".

Some of us would love to be editors with a big red Sharpie.

At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Quote: “I can do better then that!”

It should read: "I can do better than that".

Some of us would love to be editors with a big red Sharpie. "

You just got served.

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

este blog ha saltado el tiburon

At 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just live like a fruit fly and stop worrying what everyone else is doing ;]

At 8:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 9:47 AM, Anonymous Johnson said...

I think the term “jump the shark” has jumped the shark. I think everybody wants to be the first person to slap that label on something so it gets overused nowadays

At 2:28 PM, Blogger The Punisher said...

Dude you are right on with this. I think a big problem is that there is a difference between good writers and "popular" writers who make money(see Dan Brown). Amazing writers don't often achieve success like fame and money the way a more common writer does. It's like the difference between say reading the Economist and The Enquirer. Ask 10 people in the street what they think each magazine is about.....

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous White Dade said...

Aikin - At leat in Miami they have the excuse of not really knowing the language. What the fuck is everyone else's?

Anon - Not sure

Amber - Thanks. I will pass this along to my mom who has tried to employ the same tactic.

DIDC - True

Anon1 - And this has what to do with my post exactly?

Anon2 - That's not very nice

Anon3 - It's called a typo. In case you missed it, I tend to do that once in a while

Anon4 - Glad to heear it

Anon5 - I'm too busy following breadcrumbs.

Johnson - So if jumped the shark has jumped the shark, what is the new jumped the shark?

Punsiher - Yeah. I've alwasy thought Dan brown was very creative but not that godo a writer. Nice to see someone agrees with me.

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Johnson said...

How about, “the show/band/blog etc has run it’s course” or “time to take it out back and shoot it” or “euthanize it now” or how about just stop watching/reading if you think that’s what happened to whatever it is you’re commenting on. The biggest offenders of this are people who watch 24. If you don’t like the show anymore, quit saying “it’s jumped the shark” yet continuing to watch it.

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're a regular Norman Mailer, White Dade. Good work on assuming that you're qualified to judge whether other people are good writers. I mean, you tackle such relevant and worldly topics such as "Spanish people, they're different than white people!" and "Whats the deal with women in their 20's being crazy?" That pulitzer is on the way!

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With gold like this, it is no wonder he got into the Columbia School of Journalism.

At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see why he gets paid 35 bucks to write shitty blog entries on a 3rd rate travel website.

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous White Dade said...

Its a LOT more than $35.

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They should probably spend all that money they are "paying you" and hire a copy editor. (and a web developer)

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

good post, and quite true. - a professional writer


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