Are you ready to become a better writer, immediately? It may seem like a gimmick, or simply too good to be true—but you can.
The trick to being a better writer—starting right now—is to give yourself permission to be a terrible, awful, unreadable, embarrassingly untalented writer. Don’t put your best foot forward; instead, kick out your worst version of a first draft.
Why should you embrace a bad first draft to become a better writer? Here are four reasons:
You can turn off your inner critic, become bolder, and take more risks. Writing is a two-phase process. In the first stage of writing something new, you experiment. You build up and invent. The first part of the writing process can be a generative, creative experience.
But when self-censure sneaks in (What a terrible sentence! Why would you even write something like that?), all of your good, creative energy can crumble beneath the weight of self-imposed judgment.
By deliberately setting out to write something that isn’t very good, you can silence inner critical voices and increase the possibility that your writing session will be productive.
You might be surprised by what happens when you allow yourself to do anything. If you write with an editor’s voice in the back of your mind, you might be inclined to follow a pre-established pathway toward a specific end. But letting go of your inner editor may lead you into exciting new territories the same way turning off a GPS system gives you the freedom to explore new roads. Let the freewriting adventure begin!
You can put research on the back burner. If you’re putting on the brakes every time you bump into a new element that needs researching (When were telephones invented? What kinds of flowers grow in this region?), then you’re interrupting your creative flow. Asking your self-aware, editorial brain to share the wheel with the creative side of your brain might just lead your dual drivers to crash. Do the research needed to begin writing, then write without looking back at it. Add in research details later.
You can pinpoint the spine (or heart) of your work more easily. When you write without trying to create beautiful, meaningful text, you can more easily see what’s hidden beneath the words—instead of being distracted by layers of revisions and “good writing.” Secret character motivations, the momentum possibilities of a scene, and opportunities for emotional exploration can leap out at you.
It’s Good To Be Bad—But Then Be Good
While it’s essential to embrace the joy of writing a crummy first draft, most professional writers agree that the bulk of their improvements to a piece are made during the editorial process. As James A. Michener puts it: “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”
To bring out your editorial talents, check out this article: NaNoEdMo: The Best Ways To Become A Better Editor.
QUESTION: Which part of the writing process do you like better: the writing or the editing?
This article was exactly what I needed to hear right now. I’ve been editing my manuscript, but the other day I wanted to work on something different and to simply write. I struggled. It was hard to get the words out but at least I got something on the page. Now, I have permission to write poorly. Thank you, it is rather refreshing.