Why Writing Crap is not (always) about Writing Badly


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Why Writing Crap is not (always) about Writing Badly


Lazette Gifford

Joyously Prolific Blog

Copyright © 2014, Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved



You see the line all the time, especially as the November NaNo nears: Allow yourself to write crap. People who are horrified by the mere idea of NaNo immediately take up the chant that everyone with a NaNo project is demeaning the fine art of writing and creating horrific work. Even during the rest of the year, these people can be equally demeaning to anyone who doesn't linger over every word and line, eking out a paragraph a week if they're lucky.

There's nothing wrong with working slowly. Many very good authors work in this way, and produce wonderful work. Others, even great writers, work faster. This is a personal approach about what works best for you as an author, and if you only listen to one side or the other, you are denying yourself the right to experiment and find your own way.

For some, the slow and methodical technique means never getting anywhere. They get stuck, they get bored; they lose the fine thread of the story while they ponder over whether flamboyant or brash is the better word when they should be moving ahead with the storyline and leaving such fine-tuning for later. For some authors, working slow might not be the best way to write.

This is where Dare to Write Crap comes in.

These words are not a clarion call to create horrible work; it is a challenge to let your muse loose and take chances. Instead of keeping a throttle hold on the neck of your imagination so that only a trickle slips through at a time, open up the flow. Dare to write anything your mind gives to you. Some of the work might be truly bad. A good deal probably won't be horrible, but won't be great either. This is where you must remember the truly magic words in writing and not despair: First Draft. Our imaginations are odd things that can throw out some of the strangest ideas that look stupid at first glance. Play with them. Let them run wild for a while and worry about fixing the word choices later.

Let your muse play.

That's what 'dare to write crap' is truly about. That line is a call to freedom for any writer who felt constrained by the idea that words must be perfect in their first blush on the screen or paper and that the author will be judged by every poorly written metaphor, even if no one else ever sees the work.

If you don't let your imagination loose to play on the page, you might never know all you are truly capable of writing. If you always stick to the same tried-and-true method of working, you run the risk of not expanding your possibilities.

There is no one true way to write; you can write fast or you can write slowly. I do both, depending on the work. I have purposely slowed a novel down to a crawl to examine the intricate vertices of a sub-plot to work those high points carefully into the larger storyline, where a perfect line can mirror some other action. I've also written first draft novels in a week, rushing forward with the pure joy of creative abandon. I have later ruthlessly edited both types of stories.

The story I raced through, living every twist and turn of the story, would not have been the same tale I would have told at 500 words a day instead of 5,000. This is something you need to consider as you approach the story. How can you tell which way would be better for a particular work? Quite often for me it's the rush of the story in my head. If I see the storyline building in a flash of details, it often means I need to run along and try to keep up. (Do I need to repeat the term first draft here?) Other times, I might find myself with a story that is not unfolding fast and needs a slow approach to find the path.

Neither way is wrong. Neither way is always right.

If an author gives themselves permission to write with such freedom that they risk making mistakes, they shouldn't be lambasted for taking the chance any more than the slow writer should be criticized for not picking up the pace and writing more.

Find what works for you and for the current story you are trying to tell. Don't worry about how others are working. Don't pretend that what they do is in any way going to affect your own writing, and don't listen if they ridicule how you write, whether fast or slow. It doesn't matter. The only thing that counts is the finished story and not the first draft.

Tell your story. Edit your story. Find the path that works for you and don't be afraid to try a different style for a different story.

Experiment and dare to make mistakes. No one ever created anything unique and great by following the safe path.