bad writing

The road to good writing is paved by bad writing

You need to make a mess

The most common mistake for any writer to make, is to believe every written line must be genius and perfected from the start. In reality, creating a fictional reality is messy business. Accept that making a mess is inevitable to save yourself the dead-end stress that prevents you from even getting started. You see, the mess you create is exactly what you need further down the road. The mess you make when you have a free-writing session, when you write imperfectly, stupidly even, that mess is full of hidden gems. The best ideas come from free association. The sooner you quit censoring your creativity, the more ideas you will develop and the better they will be. Learn to not only accept a mess will be made, also learn to work with the mess. Also, we learn a lot from correcting mistakes.

The self-doubt is part of the natural process

The self-doubt, the worry, the confusion, it’s part of the process for every single writer. It is not a reflection on your ability to write. So stop worrying and write imperfectly. The less you care, the better your writing will be. On revision, every mistake can be fixed.

What to do when you hit a wall

Feel like you’ve hit a wall? Keep writing. Do a free-writing session. Pick up a writing prompt and spent 10 minutes writing about it. Whatever you do, keep trudging through the mud. Just like bad first drafts, the slumps in progress are also part of the mess. Skipping the bad days may be a tempting option, but the best and quickest way out is to work through them.

Talent & Skill is obtained by hard work

Every pro started off as an amateur. Skill is obtained through the learning curve, through hard work and many hours of practice. Just like no Olympian got to the top by sheer natural talent, neither do writers. A good writer is a writer who didn’t quit. Who produced a hideous first draft and then improved until it became excellent. Who studied the craft and practised applying the techniques.

Self-editing: writing is rewriting

Every writer will read back a piece of their own and think: oh my God. This is terrible. I’m an awful writer. I should just quit. The trick is dealing with this emotion. Activate the rational side of your brain and recognise the signal for its true message: something isn’t right, a problem needs to be fixed. Release the emotion and focus on identifying the problem areas and ways to correct them. Writing is rewriting.

Cleaver, J. (2002) Immediate Fiction.