Why Writers Should Write Badly
Since this blog is all about writing, we'll focus on that. But as I mentioned, this is really a life tip disguised as a writing tip.
If you're a fellow writer, putting out bad writing is often a great fear even when you know you're a good writer and you've been told that your entire life. We fear being judged. Our imposter syndrome creeps in. And then we fear being judged even more. It's a dreaded cycle isn't it?
If you're a solopreneur or small business just getting started and you're needing to do all the writing for your website and marketing materials, bad writing and bad copy can make your business look unprofessional...but not always. Let me explain...
Good and bad writing are subjective.
In my freshman year at University, I took an Art History course I was very excited about and wrote a paper I felt very good about. When I got my paper back from the T.A. and saw a big fat "C" on it, I was shocked. I know my weaknesses, and writing is not one of them. So, I went to the T.A.'s office to ask her why she gave me a "C" and the first thing she said to me was a question. She asked, "Are you a lit major?" I looked at her confused and said no. She then told me that I write beautifully, but this was not what she was looking for. And that was my first lesson in different styles of writing, with different purposes, and different expectations. I learned this lesson again my first year of law school, where I yet again had to learn to write differently.
I've seen websites with beautifully written words, but not very impactful copy. And I've also seen websites with imperfect English that did not reflect negatively on the brand. In fact, it worked, because it felt genuine and you knew that the founder behind this small business was the one speaking to you. I could hear her voice.
So first and foremost, remember that writing is subjective, and different people will have different opinions, but also remember the style and tone needs to match your purpose and brand voice.
That being said, we still need to be unafraid of writing "badly." Writing badly means getting started. And when you've written badly, then honed your skills and start writing better, that's growth. And that's beautiful.
The thing is, even great writers write badly from time to time. In my experience as a screenwriter and songwriter, sometimes you have to write ten bad scripts or a hundred bad songs, before you get to the good one...or at least the one that has that special something-something.
A few years ago, I published my first book that was written over eight years, and admittedly, I've been a little afraid to read my own book again, because I'm afraid of the writing. That was a different Justine that wrote that book. It was a different era and practically another lifetime.
But recently I took another peak and you know what? It's not bad at all. Structurally, maybe it could've been better, but the writing itself is still engaging. Occasionally I come across a sentence and cringe, thinking I should've written it a different way. And maybe that's the perfectionist in me. But it's also just me growing as a person.
No writing will ever be "perfect." There will always be something you'll want to change or improve. If I waited to publish that book when I thought it was "perfect," then it probably would still just be a fat document sitting in my cloud.
My point is that we can't let bad writing get in the way of progress. Sometimes you just have to get it out there and then revise and refine. I often refer to the first draft of anything as the vomit draft. In fact, I don't even consider that the real first draft, it's just the draft in which I get all my thoughts and ideas out. It may not be pretty, and it may only be worthy of a few very trusted eyes, but at least I got the hardest part out of the way.
Bad writing is an opportunity to learn and grow. It's an opportunity to write great!
So next time you're worried about not having the right words yet, don't worry. Just write. Write until it's no longer "bad" writing.
And if you'd like an extra pair of eyes to help you edit your words, please don't hesitate to reach out for a consult. I've got you 🎈
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