12 Traits Bad Writers and Toddlers Have in Common

12 Traits Bad Writers and Toddlers Have in Common

So, I have a two-year-old daughter.

(Are you also a busy parent? Check out these tips for making time to write.)

I absolutely adore her. Don’t get me wrong.

But sometimes she drives me so bonkers that I just want to scream, “Why God, why?” while eating raw cookie dough in a closet.

Ahem.

After one such episode, I got to thinking about the things that toddlers and bad writers have 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

Toddlers: I want ice cream NOW! (while waking up entire household at 6 a.m.)

Bad writers: 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

Toddlers: I don’t like that kind.

I only like this kind.

I don’t want it.

Yuck!

Bad writers: 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

Toddlers: Me want to go swimming at the waterpark! (In the dead of winter, of course)

Bad writers: 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

Toddlers: On hearing that clothing might help keep their body warm, run screaming and naked through the house.

Bad writers: There is no such thing as constructive criticism, only haters.

I know my writing best.

artists and toddlers5. Babies and bad writers make messes that they expect others to clean up

Toddlers: (Purposely empties boots full of sand in the car)

Mommy, there is sand in the car!

Get it out!

Bad writers: (Leaves their copy riddled with mistakes)

Ehh, my editor will spruce it up.

It doesn’t need to be perfect.

6. No matter the age, they just won’t listen

Toddlers: Sings “Let it Go” at the top of his lungs while dad tries to ask if he needs to go potty.

Bad writers: I’m an artist, okay?

They wouldn’t understand.

I’ll just keep doing me.

7. They throw a fit at the drop of a hat

Toddlers: I said I want “Moana” radio not “Beauty and the Beast” radio!

Wahhhhhhh!

Bad writers: 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

Toddlers: I want goldfish.

No, I don’t want goldfish!

Get it away!

No goldfish!

Bad writers: 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?

Toddlers: Look, a butterfly!

Mommy, I’m hungry.

Where is my blanket?

Bad writers: 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

Toddlers: Dad to toddler: would you like a different color crayon?

Noooooooo!

I only want this blue crayon!

Bad writers: 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

Toddlers: Throws clothes down the stairs after being asked to get dressed.

Bad writers: So what if I occasionally skip deadlines, ignore emails and don’t follow through?

Nobody will notice, anyway.

12. They never say “thank you”

Toddlers: They just never say it.

No matter how many millions of times you politely encourage it.

Bad writers: 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.

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!

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38 comments

  • Anthony says:

    As a dad of two young kids this hit close to home. Toddlers are just like this especially my daughter. As a writer I am guilty of a few of these. Maturing at my craft as I get older so my thoughts are rapidly changing. Great post.

  • Re: point 12. My dream in life is to be able to write a long list of acknowledgements, possibly starting with my high school English department and going all the way to the fantastic baristas at my writing spot. Of course, I’ll dedicate the book to my grandchildren if it’s YA or MG (should have plenty if them by then).

  • Zeek says:

    I mean no offense, and certainly don’t mean to single you out. But since the topic concerns writing, it seems like a good opportunity to ask about something that has puzzled me for some time.

    Why do people begin a statement with “So, …”? This peculiar construct appears to be of recent origin. Some questions occur to me:

    Why do this? The conventional use of “so” is to introduce the conclusion of an explanation or a discussion; major and minor premises have been explored, theses and antitheses considered, and a conclusion formed. “So, …” we state our conclusion. In formal logic, we might have posed a syllogism, and we’d use the construct “Therefore…”

    Another use of the construct has been to restate someone else’s position in order to clarify issues for further discussion: “So, it is your opinion that intelligent life must exist on other planets.”

    But why introduce a lead sentence in an article or a discussion with “So…”? This makes little sense to me. How did this emerge, and how has it reached such widespread use, especially in formal writing by people who write for a living? Who started this?

    These aren’t idle questions. I am genuinely curious as a student of language. I ask here because I among writers.

    Can anyone help me understand this?

    Thanks

    • Megan Sharma says:

      No offense taken, Zeek! I understand your point. I am probably guilty of using “so” too much in the wrong context.

      I think it’s become more widely used and socially acceptable because it’s part of a more casual, conversational writing style, which I enjoy using.

      I know that not all writers are in the same boat.

      Happy writing!

  • Bryan Fagan says:

    Awesome! A perfect read for my Tuesday morning. Having experienced the terrible twos’s twice your lists brought back lots and lots of memories. It also brought back the memory of my former self when I was convinced my first draft was my only draft.

    • Megan Sharma says:

      Bryan, I believe “terrible twos twice” is possibly the most frightening use of alliteration I’ve ever read – but I suppose millions of parents go through it!

      I also love your point about the first draft NOT being the only draft – you’re so right.

  • Irene Conlan says:

    I love this article and will put a link to it on my submit-an-article page for The Self Improvement Blog. I receive guest articles daily and many of them are outstanding. But I’m still surprised when I get an article filled with typos, misspelled words, and grammar that is below fifth grade level. At times I’m pretty sure a toddler could do better.

  • Vivienne says:

    I am constantly amazed at writers who post comments without reading through them first. I see so many typos that could be avoided with a brief check. Just like. a toddler trying to get instant gratification. It does nothing for their reputation as a writer.

  • Tom Gould says:

    Single mindedness and determination are often confused. When I got e-published I did listen to the feedback I received and took it on board. The main thing is to like what you write and be proud of it, but not tell people you are until it has done well after publication. Always take pride in what you do, but at the same time never become deluded. Every writer doubts themselves at some point, possibly even some of the best such as Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, to name two of my influences, but the main thing is to be positive about what you write, even if other people dislike it and ALWAYS listen to feedback.

  • oh this is such a great piece! I have to work on my deadlines!!!

  • And the one way the two year old and the accomplished writer are the same: The two year old knows how to make up a great story, yet he hasn’t even met the alphabet. He simply lets it fly from his subconscious mind. And the accomplished writer, having heard all the “rules,” also eventually learns to trust his subconscious. 🙂 My own writer self is 3 years old, but still….

  • Alex Smith says:

    Loved this post! It made me laugh, and realize to take writing with a grain of salt. Thank you for the fun read. And good luck with the toddler! 🙂

    Best wishes.

  • Rosie says:

    That was comical and brilliant and as I saw myself in so many of them I’ve gone a sheepish bright red! I’ve got to keep this and refer to it often!

  • Lynne Hancock says:

    Wonderfully useful advice and I’ve immediately taken on board at least two of the points and put myself on the naughty step! All advice welcome and I think humility and a very thick skin are great attributes to acquire for infant writers like me. Thank you, all of this is very much appreciated, help yourself to a popsicle from the jar!

  • Megan Sharma says:

    Thank you for reading!

  • Gerald says:

    I am learning. Thanks for sharing this.

  • What a great analogy, Megan. Shared it in a number of places and followed you on Twitter. Congratulations on being one of the Top 50 Writing Blogs by Positive Writer!

  • Jyoti says:

    Very nicely expressed… Such an interesting blog! Really enjoyed the comparison and similarities between two. Do agree what you said. You are a great writer and express your thoughts very well. Looking forward to read the next one.. goos luck.

  • Faiza Shariff says:

    Just bumped into this article and Megan you have wowed me! Never thought that my bad writing habits are similar to that of a toddler but reading the whole list, I cant agree more. I better improve on meeting deadlines from now on!

    It was a pleasure reading this…

  • Megan Sharma says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Faiza! All the best with your writing endeavors!

  • Rosemary says:

    Am guilty as charged of number nine, though am really fighting it as am a newbie in the online writing path and am sure it will be bad for my career.Nice read tjough.

  • Megan Sharma says:

    We all struggle with focus, Rosemary! You are definitely not alone. Thanks for reading!

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