Skip to main content

Today's Excuse: My writing is just plain BAD

-- so why bother?


Why bother? We are driven to write. We want to tell some kind of story, to share our knowledge with the world. Wannabe writers are usually avid readers. Our eyes devour beautifully crafted words that others have written. They make it look so easy, don't they? As readers, we only see the final product. George Carlin said, "The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity." Writing is a process, it doesn't just arrive ready to take flight. We need to allow ourselves the wonderment of a "sloppy copy" and cultivate our work into swarms of butterflies.

Excuse Editor Tip: Write like Nobody's Reading

So, you think your writing may not be very good? OK, prove it. Write anyway. Pick a topic you would want to write about, if you could write well. Make an effort to write it badly. Make sure it really sucks. Read over what you've written. Does it stink to high heaven? Well, good. You've accomplished the assignment. Look outside your window. Did locusts start falling from the sky? Did the sun go dark? Don't be scared about writing badly. It happens every day, and the world keeps turning.

Read it again. Be the critic you are afraid of. Pick out five things you could change to make this awful piece better. Go ahead and make the changes. Notice how changing just a small amount of this purposefully badly written piece makes it read like an actual draft. You've just been editing. Many writers, especially beginning writers, expect that writing should appear on the page ready to go. But that's not the case. It needs to stay in its cocoon, with you, the writer, nurturing it. It doesn't have to stay in the cocoon forever. Nurture your writing for long enough, your own butterflies will emerge.

The next time you start a writing project, resist the temptation of unrealistic perfectionism. Let your first draft flow, secure in the knowledge that if it is "bad" when you are complete, that's the way it is supposed to be. Remember you are the writer and editor. You have the ability to change it. Honor the process.

Comments

  1. Tina, you are awesome! And very inspiring -- again! Paula

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm doing NaNoWriMo. And I start to think the whole thing sucks pond water. And it probably does! I've never written a novel before, just read boat loads of them. So I'm doing the writing anyway. In 5 days, I wrote 11,149 words. Haven't written in the past few days because of my busy schedule, and that's fine. My character is still talking to me. I figure it's good therapy, if nothing else. If nobody ever reads it, that's fine. The writing is what's important right now.

    Thanks for the encouragement.
    Pam

    ReplyDelete
  3. Pam, I think it's great that you were able to "go with the flow" and just get your character's story started. Sometimes, writing isn't about getting it out there for the world, sometimes it's about getting it out of your brain! Enjoy the journey; I suspect that you'll eventually find specks of gold in your 'pond water'.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Favorites:

Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Experience

The popularity of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books is beyond extraordinary. What started out as a multi- rejected book idea has turned into a multi-million dollar book empire. More than 110 million Chicken Soup for the Soul books have been sold. Many of the books have been translated to 40 different languages. I'm proud that my personal essays have been included in some of these books, and I hope to continue being a Chicken Soup contributor.
My Story
I thought I would share a bit about being published in these collections. I'm very happy with my Chicken Soup experiences, and part of that may be that I went into it with little expectations at first. I started with them because I had a few stories that seemed to fit what they were looking for, and I thought I had nothing to lose. Unlike some of the other markets and contests I was looking at, submitting to Chicken Soup could be done at no cost to me, and I didn't even need to worry about a postage stamp, because they had a…

All the Right Ingredients to Writing Advice

Last time, I talked about people in our lives that are pretty sure they know how to be successful writers, because they spent much of their time reading. Sometimes their advice can be a blessing, sometimes just the opposite. It is the same with the plethora of advice available from other writers. Have you checked out almost every book about the writing process from your local library at one time or another? Are your shelves lined with your own copies of "the-perfect-writing-advice-that-will-get-me-published-once-and-for-all"? Are you a member of multiple online writing communities? Do you hold your breath just a little bit when waiting from the critique from that "certain someone" in your writing group?

Yeah. Me too. And I don't think that gaining knowledge is a bad thing. We just have to be careful.


Don't Let Too Many Cooks Create a Recipe for Disaster
I love great food, I savor the tastes and textures of all kinds of cuisine; but unless I have specific, de…

Why Ghostwriting? Guest Post by Kelly James-Enger

Is it Time to Disappear?  Why I Became a Ghost--and Why you Should, Too
I never intended to become a ghostwriter. After all, why would I spend months of my life toiling away on someone else’s book? No thanks. I only wanted to write my own books, and that’s what I did.
I soon found, however, that the life of a book author wasn’t quite what I’d envisioned. I was working long hours, yet making less money than I had before, when I wrote only articles. The reason was simple—the time I spent promoting my books left me less time to write articles and other books, which cut into my income.
            Fortunately for me, I was approached by a nutrition expert about coauthoring her book. I found I enjoyed collaborating with her, but the real payoff came when we finished the manuscript. As the author, she now had to start promoting it—but I was all done!
That was enough for me. I decided to pursue coauthoring and ghostwriting, and “my” next book was ghostwritten for a client. (Typically a “coau…