Writing is a skill that needs time and practice to develop. It reflects your personality, which tends to change with time, and so does your writing. So if you pick up something you wrote a while back, you may feel very differently while reading it now.

It is hard to read your writing since your inner critic is the toughest one. Your writing may make you cringe if you picked up work from years ago. If it’s something you are working on currently, it may be tough to read as you already know the words by heart.

Since this is a subjective issue, there is no definite answer but read on to discuss why writers commonly find it difficult to read their writing. 

When Reading Your Own Writing Becomes Hard

Many authors have expressed that they have found it difficult to read their own work at least once in their writing careers. Some book authors claim to have never read their final finished piece of work. 

It becomes hard to read your own work if your critical self is always looking for errors or your previous work reflects poorly on the sense of style you’ve established now. It can also be hard if you have read it enough times and are bored now. 

If the following reasons feel familiar to you, then you may have found your work hard to read.

You Are Hypercritical of Your Writing

We have all heard the saying that we are our worst critics

Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen correlates extreme self-criticism to social anxiety, too, in her book, How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety (available on Amazon.com).

You may be doing the same with your writing. You may feel your work is inadequate and will lead to embarrassment if you are not critical enough. Being constantly critical of oneself is draining, and this might be making reading your work hard.

Your Sense of Style for Your Writing Has Evolved

You may have been young when you first began writing, preferring genres that reflected what you were experiencing in that time of your life. 

First loves and heartbreaks, friendships made and broken, lessons learned and forgotten. 

But with time, you have a better understanding of the world. Your experiences have made you change the way you think, which has manifested in your writing style. You may not be fond of reading your old work because you cannot relate to your old self as much now. 

If your old work is making you cringe, you can pat yourself on the back. This shows you have grown as a writer and have developed a style of writing you can relate to more.

You Know the Words by Memory

Since this is your own brainchild, you may be a bit too familiar with it. Your brain auto-completes the sentences for you due to familiarity, which makes reading your work feel like a chore. 

It has no surprises, and you can easily predict what is coming next. 

This is especially true for story writers as most authors claim to have never read their novels post the final draft. This is similar to watching a horror film where you already know who the killer is. 

You Spent Too Much Time Writing

This one is very straightforward. If you have already spent an entire day trying to write your article, reading it again will make you miserable.

Your brain and your eyes both need some time off. 

This is also true if you’ve worked on the same piece of writing multiple times in a short span. Your brain shuts down as things become repetitive and boring. Reading your work for the tenth time is not a treat.  

Your Writing May Not Be Your Best Work

This one may sound harsh, but it is very much a possibility. If you find sentences hard to read, paragraphs too lengthy, or the story too dragged, you may not be wrong. If you are snoozing off while reading your own work, something needs to change.  

While reading your work, keeping your target audience in mind is a great place to start, but many authors make their work interesting for themselves first. They identify themselves as their biggest fan and want their work to blow their mind away. 

It may contrast with our first point but finding a balance between the two may enhance your content significantly.  

What Are Ways To Make Reading Your Work Easier?

If you can figure out exactly why your writing is hard to read, it then becomes easier to find a solution to fix it. Reading your work is an important part of editing your work, and reading your past work can help identify how you have improved and changed as a writer.

To make reading your work easier, read your work out loud or change the medium of your work. Setting your writing aside for a while before you come back to review is also a common trick many authors use. 

Read on as we discuss some common ways writers make their work easier to read.

Increase the Distance Between Writing and Reading

Most regular writers recommend taking a break between writing and editing. 

If the deadline permits, try and keep separate days for writing and reviewing your work. This is true for any literary work, as mentioned in a feature in AMWA journal on Editing and Proofreading Your Own Work

Your brain needs to physically and emotionally disconnect before it can give honest critique on your writing. Some writers recommend keeping your writing aside till you have forgotten about it so that when you re-read it, it is with a fresh perspective.

Find a Second Set of Eyes To Read Your Work

If taking a break does not work and you still find it hard to read your work, take a second opinion objectively. Hearing your friends or family compliment your work may be the boost you didn’t know you needed.

Sometimes your brain fills the gaps in your writing in your mind, and you miss correcting it on paper. The second pair of eyes will help you identify these gaps, making your writing cohesive and easier to read. 

Change the Medium of Your Work When Reading It

If you have been sitting in front of the screen for too long, with the black font against the white background staring back at you, you may find it hard to stay focused. 

Printing out your writing and reading it with colorful highlighters and pens can make the process more interesting. 

Most authors prefer the paperback feel over screens, and this may be your case too. 

Read It Out Loud to Yourself Word by Word

Hearing your work may make your work more interesting than reading it. When you read it out loud, you enunciate it like you originally intended it to be read. You can also ask a friend to read it out loud for you, which can shine a different light on your work. 

Final Thoughts 

Every writer has a process that works best for them. But as a writer, you have to read your work if you want to improve and identify flaws in previous style and writing. 

Keep pushing on because subconsciously, you know you can do better. Get through those notes that have collected dust on your desk, and work on them. Trust your inner critic and let it guide you to be the best version of yourself.

Sources 


Oliver Adams

Letter Review was founded by Oliver Adams, who is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing, casual academic, and guest lecturer at the University of New South Wales. Oliver Adams has had short stories published in leading literary journals such as Overland, Southerly, Seizure, and TEXT. He has had novels long listed for major awards such as the KYDUMA, has received government funding to produce plays from Create NSW and screenplays from Screen NSW, and has performed / produced professional work at major theatrical venues such as the Sydney Opera House.