Write the Bad to Get the Good

Ah, writer’s block.


It’s like a headache; we all get it, we all hate it and there doesn’t seem to be anything to do except wait it out.  At least that’s the going wisdom, but in my own experience I’ve found that writer’s block is best handled by writing more.  Sound confusing?  It isn’t.  As a person that allowed writer’s block to dominate my authorial career for nearly twenty years (and got it to stop), the solution is to pound your way through it.  To wit, write badly to write well.


Think of it like this; musicians play thousands of notes – maybe hundreds of thousands – for every one they put on album or do in concert.  Their lives are defined by practice…and most of it probably is the aural equivalent of that horrid piece of fan fiction or poetry stinking up your hard drive somewhere.


There is, after all, a reason why most musicians jam in private.


If everything that comes out of your brain seems bad, then write badly.  There’s an idea in there somewhere and its your job to get to it.  Just as musicians cannot be afraid of atonal jamming and screwing around, we writers cannot fear the occasional bit of bad prose or let every clunky metaphor slow us down.  Words are the tools we use to express our creativity; what successful musician was ever afraid of his instrument?  If Jimi Hendrix spent his time being overly respectful of his Fender (to the point of not playing it), do you really think he’d have given us those wonderfully distorted wheel-of-fire guitar solos we now deify him for?


Don’t think of it as bad writing…think of it as practice.  If you don’t like it, don’t show it to anyone.  Just tuck it away and write something else.  But above all other concerns is the need to keep moving forward.  Pound the keys even when it hurts. There’s a reason you sat down at the computer in the first place, remember?