‘Bad Writing Is Better Than No Writing’

“Bad writing is better than no writing.”

That’s “my code, my mot-to,” as Horton the Elephant so famously said (in the film, anyway). I remember telling this to my master’s writing class last year (probably as a way to explain some poorly developed passage), to which my professor quipped: “Sounds like it belongs on a T-shirt.” Hmmm…

I am plagued by bad writing.

All. The. Time.

For me, it’s part of the process. Still, it’s hard to write two pages of new material and know that they suck. You just have to suffer through it. Get it down. And get over it. It’s how you get to the good stuff. So many times I’ve left my laptop on a down note, with fleeting thoughts of a career change, but the next day, with fresh eyes, the boring, horrible prose suddenly looks fixable. An adjustment here, there. A few “What was I thinkings?” changed to “That’s more like its.” For me, the “magic” of writing comes during the revision stage, be it the first revision or the twentieth. And when it arrives, it makes all the days of bad writing, and accompanying nights of restless sleep, worth it.

In other words, bad writing happens. Let it.

I told that to my friend Viki the other day, and she said, “Serious???” The next day, she sent me these writing tips. “Turns out,” she said, “that this woman agrees with you!”

That’s great, I thought, as long as she doesn’t swipe the T-shirt idea.

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2 thoughts on “‘Bad Writing Is Better Than No Writing’

  1. Dina, you and I think so alike. That is how I write too. It’s all in the revisions. But getting past the “I have to get something written” part can be infuriating! I’m so glad it’s not just me!

  2. I write in my head, usually getting inspirations while in the shower, walking or driving. Everything flows so well in my head, but once I make it to the computer, what comes out is just not the same. I wind up so frustrated that I usually revise the same few sentences over and over and don’t get past them. So I’m opting for perspiration instead of inspiration and doing more free writing, revising later.

    I also have numerous ways to sabotage myself and games I play.For instance, I differentiate “personal” writing from “work” writing to the point where I now have a work computer and a laptop for personal writing. It really shouldn’t matter and I know that intellectually. Then there’s the excuses like I can’t write because in 40 minutes I have to make dinner.

    Over the years, I’ve wasted more time not writing than spent actually writing, even though I think about writing all the time. Still, what I write now will be so much better than the pretentious, self-absorbed babble I would have come up with 10 or 20 years ago so I don’t think it’s really a waste.

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