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12 Traits Bad Writers and Toddlers Have in Common

by | Feb 13, 2018

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.


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.


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!


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?


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!