The Blessing of Bad Writing

crumpled papers.jpg

I’m working on my third novel, and praise God, I’m actually moving along at a reasonable pace. So much so, that I’m not even stressed about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) being less than a week away. I’m already in the groove, already have my daily writing time allotted. I’m actually hoping that if I can maintain this discipline, and continue to make my writing a priority, I may be able to finish this novel before the end of the year.

There is only one problem: it’s complete crap. There are some scenes I’m literally cringing at just how awful they are. My second novel was a vast improvement—in terms of writing— from my first. I see it, and many of my readers do as well. And I love that. Naturally, I’d like this one to be even better. But I wonder if I’ll be able to make that happen. And that doubt makes me hesitate. And when a writer hesitates, she can easily get off track, lose momentum. So what to do?

Stop thinking and keep writing…even if it is crap. It sounds almost counterintuitive, like I should really take a break and reevaluate, but no…any professional writer will tell you, sometimes the crap has to be spilled on the page in order to get to the gems. Fixing the bad writing, taking out the useless scenes, improving the language, all that stuff gets done with subsequent drafts. The first draft is the brain spill draft; write it as it comes to you, no matter how horrible it may seem. Maybe there are two conflicting scenes, and you’re torn between which to choose? Write them both; once more of the story reveals itself to you, you’ll know which one to keep. (And you may even be able to use the other one in a different project.) Can’t think of the perfect word to use? Leave a blank space; it will either come to you later as you write or during your editing.

Really, that’s what NaNo is all about; writing, writing, writing, never stopping to edit. And that’s really why so many people can ‘win’ it. NaNo isn’t about producing a publishable novel; it’s about maintaining the motivation to write daily—through the good and the bad—to get so far ahead, you can’t possibly quit, and to give yourself a first draft that you can then re-write and edit into the next bestseller.

That’s what I keep telling myself anyway. I’ll keep you updated.

 

For a peek at some of my fiction writing (some of my better stuff; I promise it’s not crap!), please click here and I’ll send you the four interviews I wrote for the women characters of my novel, Behind Picket Fences. The interviews were super fun to write, and I think you’ll find yourself wondering if they truly are characters from a book. Check it out.

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3 thoughts on “The Blessing of Bad Writing

  1. Aisha Id says:

    I was just working on my self-help book a few months ago (Alhumdulilah now complete) and I can every bit of you have written. There were chapters where I know what to write but had no idea to how to begin or end. I used to feel like whatever I am writing is simply crap. Now once done I can’t believe I have done it but there are times I still feel it won’t work out or maybe no one would like reading it. But at least it is an achievement.

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