Allow Yourself to Write Badly

A look at why you should let yourself write badly. Sometimes.

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Writing badly is something that very few people would tell you to do and even fewer would advocate as beneficial. Unfortunately, writing well is incredibly hard and, at times, very time consuming, but there are times when you want to churn through a significant part of your writing and that’s a lot harder to do when you’re writing well.

If that sounds like I’m complaining that writing is too hard, I’m not. To explain, I’m going to use a very recent example of me writing some of my novel. Usually I’ll get through about a thousand words in a week of generally good quality writing, yet I’ll have only figured out the next scene that comes after the one I’m currently writing. Recently, five consecutive scenes popped into my head almost-fully-formed, so I powered through writing everything that was swimming around in my head. I had to get it down on paper and I did it. I wrote five scenes and a few thousand words in an afternoon.

The issue with what I wrote is that it’s pretty bad. The dialogue is stilted and lacking distinct voices, the narration needs work, and there’s probably bits missing that are needed for the whole section to make sense. And that’s okay. Sometimes switching off your internal editor can be a fantastic and beneficial thing for your writing. Sometimes I get really into what I’m doing and if I try to slow down, the energy I have for that part won’t let me go slowly. This leads to frustration which will start bleeding into my writing. Allowing myself to write whatever crap that comes out of me—so that I can get the story out of my system quickly—is a fantastic method to use. It’s allowed me to, essentially, calm down. This is one of the rare occasions where I edit mid-project. Usually I save it until the end, but now I don’t have that same hyper level of energy for the writing, I can look at what I just churned out with a much cooler head and fix what needs to be fixed before moving on to the next scene.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but allowing yourself to write badly can help you, as long as you fix it afterwards.

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

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