Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Permission to Write Crap: Granted

Writers want their work to be the best it can be. This often poses a problem when it comes to maintaining good writing habits (which includes writing every day, or almost every day). No one is at their best every single day. Life and emotions intrude, and a writer caught unaware can find themselves churning out utter dreck in the name of getting words down on the page. So, if you're having one of those days, is it better to write crap - or nothing at all?

While no one method works for every writer, there are very few exceptions to the general rule that writing crap is better. It has been said, and rightly so, that great writing is not written - it's rewritten. For most writers, shitty first drafts are a way of life. To paraphrase Nora Roberts, one of the most prolific and talented writers of our time: you can fix bad writing, but you can't fix a blank page.

In my opinion, not writing anything when you aren't feeling your best is more harmful than churning out crap. It may be just me, but I feel lowest when I'm not producing anything at all. Even better, I can often start out writing utter dreck, and once my mood is slightly elevated by the appearance of actual new pages, I find that the quality of my words improves. It's the same principle behind the idea of faking happiness: act like you're happy, and eventually you actually will feel better.

So go ahead - write crap like it's going out of style. (And if you had any doubts that I'm actually stuck in the problem I'm describing, please note my use of cliche and hear me say UGH.) Now, I'm off to take my own advice.


namaste said...

this is a very good reminder for me. i am so glad i found your blog.


s.w. vaughn said...

I'm glad you stopped by, Maria! And happy that the reminder was useful. Boy, I really needed to remember this myself today! :-)

It feels pretty good to say that it's okay to write crap. LOL

Marta Stephens said...

Oh thank you, great one, for this!! You wrote this just for me, right? Man, so true! :()

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I think we all have to write "crap" to begin with--or at least most of us. I always tell new writers to "vomit out the story then clean it up after you're through."

Gross, but gets the point across.

Marilyn a.k.a. F. M. Meredith

Kim Smith said...

thanks so much for giving me permission to write crap! yahoo!!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

SW, your written "crap" is better than most writers' well honed best efforts. LOL. I've never read anything you've written (even on the days you pronounce it "crap") that didn't intrigue and entertain me! Now I'm off to write some real "crapola," as my dad used to say. Ha!

Bonnie Kozek said...

it's a delicate balance, definitely. oddly, on the occasions when i am terrifically inspired yet am unable to get to my work, i find that something rather startling happens: by the time i do get to work -- whether a few hours or a few days later -- i find the work far superior to my original flash. something happens in the abstention. i could equate this to a certain aspect of sex right about now but i'm not sure it's appropriate .... so i'll abstain!

Jodi Lee (Morrighan) said...

Now you've got to tell us how to turn off the inner-editor.. ;)

s.w. vaughn said...

Marta, I was reading your mind. LOL

Marilyn, I like the idea of "vomiting" the story out! :-)

You're welcome, Kim. :-)

Aaron - thank you! I think I've called everything I've written crap at some point. *g*

Great analogy, Bonnie! And there is something about having to wait that seems to help the mental process.

Jodi - if only I knew! That inner slave driver just goes on and on and on... LOL