I’m here to say that I give you permission to write badly.
Writers put so much pressure on themselves to make sure every piece of writing they do is perfect, even the pieces no one will see. But why does this pressure exist? Do they put it on themselves or does society put it on them?
Any writing is practice. I imagine lots of writers composing for practice, but then scrapping pieces of paper because “it wasn’t very good”. How many times has that happened to you?
Have you ever heard of the pressure of something putting someone off? Too much pressure and you won’t be able to perform in the same way.
If you put too much pressure on yourself to write well (what even is writing ‘well’, anyway?), then you’ll only become frustrated at yourself when the words won’t materialise.
It might just mean you need a break.
It’s good for writers to practice their trade and write a little bit every day. But, like normal human beings, writers need a break too. Don’t kick yourself if you take a weekend off, or even a couple of weeks off every six months.
So, what do you do when you have this incredible idea in your head, but it’s coming out all wrong on the page? Give yourself permission to write badly. You know that what you’re writing isn’t your best work. You can’t get the right words to demonstrate the setting sun, or you hate your character but you’re not sure why. Just write anyway, as tempted as you might be to throw it in the bin.
Make light of the situation. That glorious setting sun that you can’t seem to describe right? Add a UFO to it that shoots through the sky with a little alien hand waving from the window. Suddenly your character breaks out in chickenpox and is taken to hospital. Not all your writing has to be serious. What’s the fun in that?!
These little quirks that you add can be taken out later. For now, just get the words down. You might find in a few days that the words will just appear. Who knows why. It might be your mood, tiredness, hunger, the day you’ve had, or even the weather.
What you’re writing will become the bare bones of the rest of the chapter/novel. It might be clunky, broken or rough, but think of it as a basic structure for the rest of the chapter. You’ve created a starting point which, although isn’t great, will help you when you come back to write the rest.
You are the thing stopping yourself from writing. So dismiss the perfectionist in you that’s holding you back, and write badly and as freely as you want.
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Are you a perfectionist? Or perhaps you’ve tried writing badly. How did it work for you?