Writing is a nightmare.
Of the arts, Writing is the most structured.
An artist can splash paints on a canvas at random, and a musician can pick whatever notes are close on a guitar, but a writer cannot simply throw a handful of words at a page.
A writer plans, consults, studies, researches, rewrites, edits, and worries for the sake of a single written piece. Although the writer might have a spontaneous thought, he still must abide by the laws of language and grammar.
Then the writer thinks his life will be easier if he seeks out some advice.
The advice tells him to stay up late when he has the best ideas and wake up early to write in the morning when he will have the most ambition to work on it.
There is so much writing advice out there, but when it comes down to it, all you need to do is sit down and write. We can beat around the bush all day, studying how to make our writing better, to find the most efficient writing habits, and we can worry ourselves sick whether we’re using too may adverbs. But all of this activity is wasted if we don’t sit down and write.
We need to free ourselves of the fear of writing something imperfect.
Recently I’ve used an online editing program called Hemingway. It’s a fantastic free tool that can detect if your sentences are too long, or too complex, or are hard to read. It even can highlight a problematic word or phrase and suggest a preferable alternative.
I had committed that anything I publish from now on will pass through Hemingway before it makes it to my readers.
But I’m not so sure anymore.
In the first place, I’m offended that Hemingway thinks that I use too many adverbs. It also calls me out for sentences that are hard to read. I was eager to fix these things at first, but now I’m beginning to question if I should let the fate of my writing rest in the hands of an internet bot.
What if my excessive adverb usage is an element of my style?
What if my overwrought sentences are what make my writing fun and unique?
What if good writing is not necessarily perfect writing?
Bob Ross said that people who worry about how their painting will turn out waste so much time worrying that they could have easily have painted their canvas and had the worrying done with.
Can’t the same thought be applied to our writing?
Sid Fleishman, the Newberry Award winning children’s author, said that he submitted a writing assignment to his teacher. When asked whether the writing was good or not, his teacher replied: “The only thing wasted is the paper.”
No writing is wasted. Every crafted sentence brings us closer to the writer we can become.
Go ahead. Write plots that don’t make sense. Ignore the writing advice. Write at the worst times. Forget the difference between adverbs and adjectives. Go for days without writing a word, but always come back to writing funky disjointed sentences. Explore the freedom your writing can have.
I know it’s weird for a guy who predominantly gives writing advice to tell you to ignore writing advice, but I hope that I can spur you to write something. Anything at all.
So for your own sake, write badly. -BW