Be OK with Writing Badly
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Yes, be ok with writing badly.
I know we’re hard-wired to see failure as a bad thing. I know school teaches us we have one shot to get it right.
But real life isn’t like that. Real life is fail until we get it right.
We need to practice. We need to hone our skills. We need to master our craft.
The only way to do that? Write. Write on the days you feel like it and write on the days you don’t. Don’t spend 10 minutes staring at a blank page to come up with the perfect line - just write.
Embrace the cringe-worthy things you write. Embrace the imperfections. There are 3 main reasons why.
Bad Writing is Still Good Exercise
Let’s say you work out 1 hour every other day. Today is a day you are supposed to work out, but you feel tired and only have 30 minutes to do it. Should you work out anyway?
Of course. Those biceps won’t build themselves while you eat a cheeseburger.
Obviously a 30 minute workout is still better than a 0 minute workout. Even if you don’t work out as hard due to being tired, something is still better than nothing.
Exercising our creativity is the same. Some days will be off days and some days you won’t have as much time to write as you’d like. But it’s important to do it anyway.
Even if your writing was entirely garbage that day, it still isn’t wasted. Because you exercised your creativity. You honed your talents. Just like working out with fewer reps will still help your biceps be gym-worthy, deciding to write on an off day will still help you become a better writer.
Every Bad Writing is One More Bad Writing Over With
If you haven’t lived under a rock your whole life, you’ve probably heard the Thomas Edison quote “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
Every time you write garbage, you’ve just worked through some lyrics or music that won’t work. If you’re afraid to write garbage, you’ll never be able to put the bad writing behind you.
Just dive in. Write. Don’t judge every line as you write it, just allow yourself the freedom to write.
I’m not a huge fan of “safe spaces” and the like but, in this one instance, give your writing a safe space to be judgement free.
Bad Writing can be Reworked Into Good Writing Later
Here is my favorite. Just because your first draft is junk or your third draft makes Rebecca Black seem like the Picasso of songwriting doesn’t mean it can’t turn into gold.
Even a terrible lyric or musical theme can inspire greatness later.
Maybe your concept is great, but the actual lyrics just aren’t working.
Maybe your concept isn’t great, but it can inspire a much better concept later.
No matter what, keep all your writing.
Yes, all of it.
Go back to it sometimes and see if there were hidden gems you didn’t notice before. Or just allow yourself to be inspired by the thoughts or lyrics of your past-self.
Most of the time, your first draft and final draft isn’t going to be the same, so don’t spend so much time trying to make sure everything you write is perfect. It can and should be tweaked and edited over time.
It’s ok if the first draft is junk. Most first drafts of anything are.