Writing Crap: Why It’s the Best PathPosted: November 12, 2015
You should write some real crap today. Something stinky. Something embarrassing for you. Something you will blush when you realize someone actually read it.
I am writing some now.
Yesterday I pulled out about 200 articles I’ve written in the non-fiction space to revise, edit and publish again. Most were written in the early 2000s. I had to open a window to let out the stench.
I don’t know I am a better writer now – most of these were written in the heat of deadlines. Typically five a week, written in haste on a Friday to meet a 5pm. I might be no better now, though I am better at seeing the crap.
And they were read by thousands of people, every week.
Better yet, they paid me well.
But they still stink like a disused barn.
Occasionally I would get an email “don’t you know how to write?” Well, not really. When I tell people I make my living writing they usually say, “wow, you must be a great writer.” I always reply the same: I am a mediocre writer, I just write enough people are willing to pay me for it.
In writing crap you build a foundation. Waiting until your writing is perfect means you will likely never finish or you will withhold your best ideas until you have the perfect expression, the perfect grammar, the perfect words. And no one will ever hear them or care.
In writing crap you get noticed. Develop a following. In truth the key to getting paid to write is not in being the best or even having good ideas – Solomon said there was nothing new under the sun – it is developing a following. And writing for an audience is always more motivating.
Writing crap hones your craft. I published some terrible poetry on this blog today. Truly bad. But it’s mine and it’s better than my first attempt. I am still a mediocre writer – your blog posts daily remind me of that truth – but I am probably just slightly better than I was 15 years ago.
Writing crap also thickens your skin. When enough people read your crap, some will respond. Some will hate it, and tell you so. Some will tell you – wanting to be “helpful” – how it could be so much better with this word or that. A few might even say they love it. The bad reviews always sting more than the loving words of praise. And they are often more genuine.
But here’s the funny thing: A bad review, a critical remark never killed anyone. Sticks, stones make you able to pursue writing with more confidence, not less, once you realize you didn’t die.
So I write crap and you should too.
In the comments below, feel free to post either your best crap writing or your worst. I’d love to see it.
Holding my nose, Kevin.