Children are a wonderful, precious, exasperating gift.
If you’ve spent any amount of time around little ones—especially of the toddler variety— you know that they’re a roller coaster of emotions, outbursts and unpredictable antics.
Unfortunately, toddlers and bad writers have quite a lot in common.
It’s not that much of a stretch, really.
Toddler = not yet a fully-formed human.
Bad writer = not yet a fully-developed writer.
Here are 12 traits shared by 2-year-olds and immature writers:
1. Both are completely self-absorbed.
Toddler: I want ice cream NOW! (waking up entire household at 6 a.m.)
Bad writer: I write for myself, not for my readers.
I don’t bother to provide entertainment or value to my readers.
It’s all about me.
2. Toddlers and bad writers have a limited worldview.
Toddler: I don’t like that kind.
I only like this kind.
I don’t want it.
Bad writer: I assume everyone shares my opinions and experiences.
I don’t consider other cultures or perspectives when I write.
If they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it.
3. They insist on immediate gratification.
Toddler: Me want to go swimming at the waterpark! (In the dead of winter.)
Bad writer: I want a perfect manuscript without the need to edit, a six-figure publishing deal for my first novel and a byline in The New York Times, even though I just graduated from journalism school.
Practice makes perfect? What a joke.
4. Neither can handle constructive criticism.
Toddler: On hearing that more clothing might help keep him or her warm, runs screaming and naked through the house.
Bad writer: There is no such thing as constructive criticism, only haters.
I know my writing best.
5. Babies and bad writers expect others to clean up their messes.
Toddler: (Purposely empties boots full of sand in the car)
Mommy, there’s sand in the car!
Get it out!
Bad writer: (Leaves copy riddled with mistakes)
Ehh, my editor will spruce it up.
It doesn’t need to be perfect.
6. No matter their age, they just won’t listen.
Toddler: Sings “Let it Go” at the top of her lungs while dad tries to ask if she needs to go potty.
Bad writer: I’m an artist, OK?
They wouldn’t understand.
I’ll just keep doing me.
7. They throw a fit at the drop of a hat.
Toddler: I said I want “Moana” radio, not “Beauty and the Beast” radio!
Bad writer: My life is over! Woe is me! I am a broken man!
(After receiving just one negative book review, online comment or rejection email.)
8. Immature writers and toddlers aren’t careful what they wish for.
Toddler: I want goldfish.
No, I don’t want goldfish!
Get it away!
Bad writer: Man, if only I had more time to write, more freelance work and more social media followers.
(All of this comes true.)
Oh, no! I am soooooo busy. I wish I had less on my plate.
9. Ummm … focus? What focus?
Toddler: Look, a butterfly!
Mommy, I’m hungry.
Where is my blanket?
Bad writer: I only write when I feel inspired.
I jump around from project to project.
There’s no need to finish anything.
All in good time.
10. Both resist changes like the plague.
Toddler: Dad to toddler: Would you like a different color crayon?
I only want this blue crayon!
Bad writer: Whoever said, “change is good” was seriously delusional.
I abhor change.
New technology, clients, writing style, editorial guidelines, whatever it may be—I fight it tooth and keyboard.
11. Neither do what they’re supposed to do.
Toddler: Throws clothes down the stairs after being asked to get dressed.
Bad writer: So what if I occasionally skip deadlines, ignore emails and don’t follow through?
Nobody will notice, anyway.
12. They never say “thank you.”
Toddler: He or she just never says it.
No matter how many millions of times you politely encourage it.
Bad writer: Okay, so I’ve had a little help in my writing journey.
But my mentors don’t really need to be acknowledged, do they?
They live for this stuff.
Time to grow up
I guess we all may have some growing up to do, eh? A writer’s work is never done.
Are you guilty of any of these “baby writer” tendencies? Leave a comment and fess up.