Writing Crap: Why It’s the Best Path


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.


28 Comments on “Writing Crap: Why It’s the Best Path”

  1. Crap is great for smashing through writer’s block. If I’m stuck writing a first draft, I tell myself I’m going to write crap deliberately, for my own amusement, and no one’s ever going to see it. When I do this, creative constipation becomes a deluge of delightful diaorrhea. Then I just have to sift through it and extract the seedlings of good ideas.

    Liked by 2 people

    • fictionalkevin says:

      I’ve found, sometimes, you don’t have to change that much – your “crap” might flow more naturally and have the voice you were trying so hard to craft. Thanks for the comment and the insight.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nurse Kelly says:

    Authentic and truthful – and I can definitely relate! Thank you for this! (P.S. your Gravatar is scary! lol)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. If I was afraid to write crap, I never would have published anything. Like it, or don’t, nothing I can really do either way. My hope is that what I write will bring some emotion, elicit some response, but I have no control one way or the other. I really like this one. Thanks for writing it, Crap and all. đŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dr. R says:

    So what you’re saying is you write crappy but it’s your crap and nobody can take that away for you. Good for you, if the suckers keep on coming back to read your crap writing, you must be doing something right.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Katrina says:

    Dude, you’re so right. I have GOT to get over myself and write some fucking crap. Because right now…I’m not writing.

    So here’s a crappy poem I wrote ten years ago. It’s titled “Violet.”

    Violet is for loneliness, fidgety fingers, cream of amethyst.
    Pitiful forget,
    the musky scent of wine,
    its violet juiciness.
    The hue of thirsty lungs,
    kept from flower air.
    Violet is the villain, dirty shadows, deliberate pain.
    Sleepy, stinky mouths,
    mysterious, slipping in and out of the hour of a dream.
    The violet of flowers, their violet limbs.
    Eggplant, full and ripe,
    loses its mystery with its skin.
    Loud awkwardness,
    sparkling from outside.
    The violet of what is now.
    The color of smoking jackets, so sad eyes, lilac smells.
    Yarn pom-poms, their big childhood bounce,
    the violet of ignorance.
    Parading rotten meat, the violet of decay.
    Graceful, good peacock,
    its violet feathers.
    Powerful sex, bleeding into purple heat.
    The violet of wisterias, bruises, heart’s weight.
    Vibrant violet, electric and painful.
    Innocence in a bathtub,
    soapy water blues.
    The royal purple of her pride.
    Delicacy in rich silk.
    Her dance is violet.
    A fucking sight to behold.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Heartafire says:

    So true , so encouraging. Don’t be afraid !

    Liked by 2 people

    • fictionalkevin says:

      I’m not insecure about my fiction partly because I know I have yet to put in the time to write truly “good” fiction. I can and I will, but one has to suck at something difficult long before someone can be “good” at a difficult thing.

      Thank you for YOUR encouragement. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Nena says:

    Now that’s a load of crap!! lol In a good way:) Great advice and motivation for all of us to just express our hearts out even if we have to pinch our noses every now and then.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Here’s a link to Anne Lamott’s great essay called Shitty First Drafts. You might enjoy it.
    Excellent post.


    All my best to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the link. I will go read it now as it is a great way to avoid actually writing for another little while. You don’t have one on “Shitty Final Drafts” you can share, do you?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh this is full of gems…

      It’s not like you don’t have a choice, because you do — you can
      either type, or kill yourself

      If one of the characters wants to say, “Well, so
      what, Mr. Poopy Pants?,” you let her

      I used to write food reviews for California magazine before it folded. (My writing
      food reviews had nothing to do with the magazine folding, although every single
      review did cause a couple of canceled subscriptions. Some readers took umbrage at
      my comparing mounds of vegetable puree with various ex-presidents’ brains.)

      Thank you for sharing the link.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s