There’s one inescapable truth about your writing (there’s the clickbait title you avoided, you’re welcome): at first, it will suck. One of the vital steps in making it suck less, is to get feedback. There are a few obstacles there, because you’ll want this feedback to be unbiased, but chances are your fragile creator’s ego (pictured) won’t let you show your work to complete strangers.
My art is doomed to be unappreciated in my lifetime, no mortal could understand the complex and tortured work of art that is ‘Johnlock Fic #11’
Or you’re trying to make a career of your writing and don’t want to give it away for free. Or you don’t know how to get your crappy work into the hands of the ruthless, knowledgeable people that can give helpful critiques without charging money for it (an exchange that makes me uncomfortable, for the simple fact that once money changes hands it gives whoever is getting paid incentive to keep the relationship going, and thus throws the objectivity of the critique into question).
This throwback rambley introduction is to inform you that this article is meant to help you if you find yourself needing help to find a place to get inspiration and feedback on your work.
Family and friends
I know, I know—I said you need unbiased feedback, and the people closest to you are hardly that. But we all need to ease ourselves into having our babies criticised,
Too much unnecessary shirtlessness? Those cultureless swine! The shirtlessness is to represent emotional vulnerability and rockin’ abs!
And if you ask for honest feedback, especially if your friends read similar works to that you’re creating, you can probably get some. Bonus—your friends and family might even agree to read multiple versions of your work to help you improve it, rather than just throwing out a ‘this sucks’ and moving on.
If you do have a lot of readers amongst your loved ones, there’s also a chance that you can ask for prompts to help inspire the creation of new work. If you’re really lucky, there might even be some writers amongst those closest to you, and you can trade work to provide feedback to each other.
That neatly brings us to the next place you can seek critiques:
A writer’s group
People working on improving their own writing can be a great resource to you in your quest to suck less, and if you have the opportunity to participate in such a community, I recommend it. Depending on where you live, your ability to travel, and how much free time or other resources (money) you have to work on your writing, you could choose an in person group (this could be especially helpful if you struggle to hold yourself accountable) or (in these socially-distanced times) an online community could be a more realistic option. You’ll have to see what works best for you, if video chat makes you feel a part of a community (and thus more likely to pay attention to any challenges/critiques posed by members of your writing circle) use video chat, if you prefer anonymity and text, go that route. Reddit and other forum sites of the like have large, supportive communities of users and a great variety of challenges and prompts to help you practice your craft and crowdsource opinions on your writing at the same time. With all of the internet at your disposal, you’re sure to find something that works for you.
Fanfiction.org, the last bastion of true taste!
A course or competition
This is the last option on the list for a reason, and I understand that a lot of people don’t have the time, funds or ability to attend a paid course for their writing. I haven’t attended one myself. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enter competitions to see if your writing is worthy of accolades. Even if you don’t win (and statistics are not on your side: if it’s a free competition, chances are you’ll be up against a fair number of people), whatever group is running the competition will likely mention what made the winning story stand out, and you can use this feedback to polish up your writing. Hey, best case scenario you win and you can rest assured that you’re the true artist you always knew you were. A course (depending on the credibility of the institution offering it) could be a great option of you have the resources to commit to working on your writing, and you want to have targeted tasks and critiques on your writing now from someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Congratulations, you could have a promising career writing erotica
Hopefully these suggestions helped you realise that no matter what your circumstances, if you have some time and access to a computer (which I feel comfortable assuming, considering this is published on a blog), there are ways for you to work on improving your writing. And hey, with the world in the situation it is now, chances are we all have a little more free time than we’re used to. So what are you waiting for? Go write!