Ok so that post mocking EL James made me think about a few things.
The first thing is something that I worry about whenever I reblog posts that make fun of bad writing or bad writing advice. I worry that someone will see my utter malicious glee at a phrase like “his eyebrows widened”, and then think “I could see myself making a mistake like that. I must be a shitty writer. :( “
This is absolutely not the case, and in fact, it probably means the exact opposite!
Being a good creative writer is always a balance between two things: Writing clearly, and writing inventively. At some points, your writing might use quick cliches and simple, invisible language (example: defaulting to “said” for a dialogue tag) for clarity’s sake. In another moment, you might experiment with a new way of describing something familiar (in a fic a while ago I described someone’s laugh as “a butterfly trying to escape a closed window”, and people seemed to think that was cool)
The thing is, when you’re fiddling around with words to make New Things, it involves a lot of trial and error. You may very well end up with something ridiculous like “his eyebrows widened” when you’re just trying to come up with a creative way to say “his eyes widened”. This experimentation phase is almost always when you end up with magical expanding eyebrows.
And if you catch yourself doing that, even in something you’ve already published - laugh at it! Laugh at yourself, because you have made something funny, and funny is the hardest thing to make. Maybe you’ve even stumbled upon a good comedic idea. Douglas Adams and Sir Terry Pratchett both crafted some hilarious extended metaphors, and that definitely required some experimentation.
EL James’ writing was dumped onto the poor, unsuspecting masses in a state that can only be described as embarrassing, and her book succeeded purely because of scandalous marketing and morbid curiosity. We laugh at her mistakes because a whole chain of supposedly professional editors and publishers failed to catch them. The problem was not that EL James wrote garbage; the problem was that she wrote garbage and then no one corrected her and instead they sold the garbage in its garbage state.
But you must make garbage too! You gotta practice, and all practice is a process of experimentation and failure. Hopefully, your editors will be 100% better than EL James’s in that they will help you grow. So please keep writing ridiculous phrases! Remember that they are a sign of you trying to be creative. Laugh at them, too! And then learn, and try again.