Monday, April 2, 2012

Bad Writing

"And so, in order to be a good writer, I have to be willing to be a bad writer..."
Julia Cameron, page 23


One thing I have learned on this journey to becoming a writer, is that there seems to be a right way and a wrong way to writing. 

I don't like that.

With art, I always found comfort when my instructors would say, "And there is no right or wrong...just create art, understand?"

Yes! I definitely found comfort in those words. So much so, I found myself telling my students the same thing. Art is subjective...well, at least when you get past the foundations. 

But I am learning that with writing, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. Because of this fact, there is more pressure to get it "right", you know what I mean?

"Writing doesn't always have to know where it's going..." page 22

So you can imagine how I just loved this book by Julia Cameron where she has a chapter dedicated to bad writing. 

In this chapter, she pretty much gives permission to the writer to just write. She advises the writer to put down on paper all your thoughts, the plot, the images, the crisis, and the ending in order to get it all out. 

And, yes, she realizes that this first draft will be bad. 

And that's okay!

"In other words, let it all in—every little detail that catches your fancy. You can sort it all out later—
if it needs sorting."  page 23

And with that permission, I found freedom! I found the same freedom I found with painting:  Just put paint brush to paper or canvas and see what happens. If you make a mistake, who cares? Start over if you need to but keep going.

Get it all out! Write out all those thoughts, plot lines, characters, dialogue, rising actions, scene after scene...and see what happens. I can sort it all out later. Yes!

This is the type of writing I can do. 

But that monster known as Perfectionism still creeps in.

"Perfectionism is a primary writer's block..."  page 25

All of us have read that book. You know the one: the one where the characters are amazing, the plot is unforgettable, and the action just draws you in?

Well, after reading that book then trying to write your can see why so many writers just quit from the pressure of "getting it right." 

That longing for perfectionism is what keeps us from actually writing. The little voice in our heads can be our worst enemy.

Cameron's book has helped me move past this pressure I can put on myself. By explaining that it's okay to write badly if it means getting those ideas on paper, she gave me that permission to be creative again.

I can't tell you how many times I have sat at the typewriter (yes, I have been trying to write since before computers..) or computer keyboard wanting to write my story but couldn't because I felt the pressure to be perfect. 

You know, find that perfect word. Write that perfect sentence that just leaves people in awe. Or construct that incredible scene that leaves the reader wanting more....

So I gave up. 

But now I am learning my own writing process. Just get it all in! And sort it all out later. I write and write and finish the book. Then, I go back and rewrite along the way. 

I highly recommend this book. Cameron goes on to write about the writing life and debunks the myths, she writes about integrating life experiences into our stories, about writing daily, etc.

She covers it all!

I suppose the main point I got from this book is to remember why I ever bought that typewriter in 1991, sat down at my little dining table, and began typing away: because I had a story in my head that I just had to tell. 

And that's why I write today. I have a story to tell.



  1. Yay! So glad you haven't let discouragement take hold and make you stop writing. You're talented and have great ideas, and I can't wait to see what God does with you.

  2. It has been discouraging, I must admit. I have restarted this manuscript three times! But, I feel it is a better MS because I allowed myself to make those errors.

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Live the story, enjoy the heck out of the story, and the right way will find you--or you it. Have fun, Ruth, sounds like you are on your way!

    1. Thank you, Jenny! I appreciate the encouragement! The journey makes the destination all worthwhile...