I have a confession to make. I used to be a terrible writer. In English, my native language no less. Now, I would like to preface this by saying that by making such a statement I am not saying that I am a great writer. But I’m a good enough writer to get paid for it from time to time and I’ve dramatically improved from my younger years.

In High School when writing essays started to be really important, I would consistently get Cs and Bs. I was almost a straight A student, and to have English as the one class holding me back really bothered me.

I would get my papers back and they would be covered in red ink. I didn’t have a firm grasp on principles of grammar and I wasn’t clear in my writing; it wasn’t engaging.

I started learning Spanish, which really helped me understand English. I started to better understand how verbs work, grammar, adjectives, etc. Starting from scratch and learning the basic principles of language really helped me with understanding English. It made sense as I have been speaking English my whole life, before I even knew what an adjective or past participle was.

I slowly started to become a better writer. I graduated high school and moved on to college, where my writing skills would be put to the test.

Initially, I was a Philosophy minor, which required me to write nothing but essays as my homework. I also had to pass a Freshman writing test to prove I was “good enough” to move on to be a Sophomore. In my Philosophy classes, I would get so excited talking about ideas, thinking about reality and perception and more. But my writing issues still remained. My writing sounded like a book report. It was stale and bland, each word dying on the page.

After being frustrated and realizing that if I wanted to master Philosophy, I was going to have to be an engaging writer and a clear communicator. I started meeting one-on-one with my professors each week to receive feedback. I started going to the Writing Center for tutoring.

I remember how happy I was when I got my first A on an essay. It was so rewarding for me. I passed the Freshman English exam and was able to improve my writing throughout college.

I wish I could say that I had a natural-born talent at writing and that I’ve always been good at it. I’m often envious of people who are good at something without much effort. But that’s not the case.

However, my writing has improved because of perseverance. My writing has improved because I learned another language, I started reading more, and really cared about improving.

Why am I telling you this? Because I think it’s amazing that 10 years ago I would receive papers covered in red, looking at the editing bloodshed. I was embarrassed and felt like a failure.

Now, I get paid to write. Not a lot, but I still get paid to express my thoughts in a creative way. I sew words together to make them sound pretty. I re-arrange them to make them shift their meaning. I create copy that sells in a friendly, unobtrusive way.

I still have so much to learn too and that is the exciting part. As any type of creative, your work is never really “done.” I still make stupid mistakes, or have major bouts of insecurity, or even have epic fails. This week I received my first big writing rejection. I tried my best and worked really hard at it, and it still wasn’t good enough. The sting of rejection is always painful, but it’s something that I am getting better at dealing with.

I put my big girl panties on and kept working on other projects. I looked back on how far I’ve come and was simply amazed that I AM a writer. Writing used to cause me so much distress. Now it is fun, pleasurable and intense.

So, why is this important? Because wherever you are in your life, whatever struggle you are dealing with, it can get better. If your financial situation sucks, or you feel like you can’t do something, don’t give up. Just keep going and commit yourself to learning and getting better.

You can learn something and improve, even if your mind is telling you, “I’m just not good at that.” Don’t confuse talent with skill. You can learn skills, talent is just a predisposition or an aptitude for something. Hard work does pay off (eventually).

So whatever stumbling blocks you are going through, know that you can overcome it. Work at it. Every day. If you are feeling comfortable, work harder. Do something that scares you. Remember the people you admire are just people. They are not more or less special than you.

So get out there and start doing. Start creating. Start improving. Change things around in big or small leaps. Do what you want because there is only one life. Stop self-sabotaging yourself by saying, “I’m not good at that,” or “I can’t.” Say, “I’m still learning.”

You can do it. I believe in you.

Melanie’s Notes: Check out my other writing around the web.

How Much is Your Job Costing You?

The Cost of Convenience

15 Awesome Inexpensive Date Ideas

Also, if you find value in my content and you like what I do, would you consider nominating me for Best Debt blog for the Plutus Awards, starting August 1st? It would mean a lot to me.


Melanie is a freelance writer currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy, and empowering people to take control of their finances. She writes about breaking up with debt, freelancing, and side hustle adventures at DearDebt.com.

Currently she puts more than 50% of her income towards debt, while living a frugal, fun life. In addition to her love of personal finance, art and music, she is also a karaoke master. Follow the adventure @DearDebtBlog.

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16 responses to “Confession: I Used To Be a Terrible Writer”

  1. debt debs says:

    Your writing always comes across as very sincere and genuine, Melanie. The fact that it did not come easily to you initially does not show in your writing today.

    Sometimes I worry that I write too colloquially, because I write as if I’m talking in my head.

    I’ve heard that the more reading you do the better writer you become.

    I can easily pick out typos and grammatical errors in other posts but not my own. Once I finish writing it, it’s like I don’t want to look at it again (but I do). Sometimes I catch things, other times I don’t. I consider myself a pretty good proof reader, just not on my own stuff. ha ha
    debt debs recently posted…Debt Update and MVP Blog AwardMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Thank you! I really enjoy writing now.

      I like your writing! I am also a good proof reader for other people’s work, but not my own. There is something about writing that makes it hard to edit your own stuff.

  2. Kirsten says:

    Thank you for sharing this 🙂 I would have never guessed that writing didn’t come naturally to you. You are a gifted communicator and it’s interesting to know that you’ve worked so hard to develop the craft. What an important lesson about not giving up!
    Kirsten recently posted…Success Story Saturday + Good ReadsMy Profile

  3. I love that you shared this! I’m helping my friend figure out how to write blog posts right now. She has her masters and feels like she really stinks at writing. I think practice and some editing help (guidance from a friend) makes a huge difference. I know my writing has improved just from writing a lot more.
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…To Budget or Not To Budget: That Is the QuestionMy Profile

  4. I got a D on my first writing assignment in college and I thought I would kill myself. After I got out of my funk, I worked hard with the professor to determine what I needed to work on and how I could get better. I ended up with an A in the class, and now I too write a lot for work, but it didn’t come without work and effort.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – Taking ChancesMy Profile

  5. I think I’m the opposite situation. When I was in high school I used to get 10/10 on writing assignments (such a movie reviews, etc… the type of documents that could have more life and personality in them) from university professors turned high school teachers.

    Then I went into the sciences, and I lost a lot of that writing charm that I used to have… because science doesn’t allow hyperbole, and fragments, etc. Now I write how I talk and hope to be amusing to my readers. But I find it a challenge many times to not sound like a robot (“as a result of the data being biased by x…”). So when I get in a groove, I write and take advantage of as much free-flowing thoughts as possible 🙂

    PS, you know I love your writing!
    Alicia @ Financial Diffraction recently posted…10% Increase In Internet Fees – Poof!My Profile

    • Melanie says:

      Interesting! I am sure the sciences engage a completely different part of your brain. Writing can be challenging and exhilarating. Glad you like my writing and I love your free flowing thoughts, too! 🙂

  6. How interesting that you were not always a good writer. It doesn’t seem that way at all now, I love your writing style. I have actually never struggled with writing, I always put papers off to the last second and still got A’s on them. Teachers would say, “I can tell you really took your time and thought this paper through” despite the fact that I just whipped it together in an hour or so the night before it was due. I don’t tell you this to brag, I just can’t really relate to feeling this way. I’m glad you’ve made the progress you have though! 🙂
    Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore recently posted…My Want ListMy Profile

  7. I think a big thing with writing, or any skill for that matter, is realizing that you can improve over time. To become a better writer it’s important to 1) write. a lot. 2) read other people’s writing. and 3) learn about the “art” of writing. I would say I’m a solid writer and it’s because I’ve done all three of these things, extensively.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…How to Remodel your Bathroom on your Own (DIY)My Profile

  8. Practice really does make such a difference. I look at my posts from just a year ago- it’s incredible how much my writing has changed

  9. I think you’re an incredibly talented writer, Melanie. You’re also one of the kindest folks out there. But I think writing, like DC said, is a craft you can hone over time. Nobody is born with an innate knowledge of writing, but they learn and improve by doing.
    Ryan @ Impersonal Finance recently posted…to get ahead, get startedMy Profile

  10. NZ Muse says:

    I adore your writing. I would never have guessed.

    Funny, I’m like Alicia – writing is one thing I’m good at, maybe the only thing that’s ever come easy to me. I mean, I get writer’s block and procrastinate sometimes – work is work – but it flows unlike anything else I’ve ever put my hand to. I think it’s because I’ve been a hardcore reader almost since I could walk, and started writing not long after. I couldn’t teach you to write- I don’t know theory, how and when to use things, and only in the last few years learned some basic grammar rules. I guess it’s been a case of learning from reading and writing from instinct, and it’s always gotten me top marks through my education and in my career.
    NZ Muse recently posted…Why full-time travel is not for meMy Profile

  11. I semi-hear you. I did well in high school English and on the AP exams, but not so hot in university English. A lot of my high school honours classes skipped all of the grammar parts and focused on the comprehension stuff, which only got us all so far, we still needed to learn about passive voice and whatnot!
    Anyhoo, I also think it’s hilarious that I now get paid to write. My university English prof (I only took two courses) is on my Facebook and I’m tempted to message him one day to say, “you’ll never believe it, I’m a professional writer on the side!”
    Anne @ Money Propeller recently posted…New Graduate Office Wardrobe Staples (Women)My Profile

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