The Importance of Writing Badly

Writing well is something that all writers want to achieve. Putting the words down on the page in the best way you can and shaping them into the sentences that will become books are the reasons we write. It’s those very books that inspire us in the first place. We look to them as the ultimate goal. We also compare our work to those perfect sentences.

While it’s good to aim for such lofty writing goals, you need to remember that they were achieved after lots of rewriting and years of hard work. Those sentences didn’t come out perfect, in fact they probably came out badly. But that’s a good thing, that’s what you should keep in mind as you type away at the keyboard; the importance of writing badly and what it can do for your own work.

Writing Badly Gets the Words Flowing

Even writing something as bad as; “The sun was in the sky with the clouds. The sky looked orange and pink as the sun began to light the day” is enough of a starting point to just get the words flowing. Even if every sentence after that is just as basic, it’s better than having nothing written at all. Then, when you’re in a more inspired mood, you can take that bad writing to next level and turn it into; “Orange colored clouds dotted the pink streaked sky as the sun rose between them to give light to the morning.” (or something better if you consider this example bad writing too.)

Writing Badly Eliminates Self Doubt

Much in the same way writing anything will get the words to flow, when you’ve taken that bad writing and turned it into something better, it eliminates the doubt. All that self-doubt that crept up when you re-read that first draft will get washed away when the good, inspired writing takes over and you’ve attained the satisfied self accomplishment that happens when you’ve worked on something until it’s as perfect as you can make it. To reach that perfection and eliminate the self-doubt though, you need to have crafted those badly written words first.

Writing Badly Lowers Your Expectations

If you know—and accept—that the first words you put down will be paragraphs of utter crap then you’re free to just enjoy writing. Nothing hampers hitting your word count faster than trying to make those words perfect as soon as they hit the page. Lower your expectations, know that writing badly comes first, and enjoy creating those horrific sentences as fast as your fingers can type them. Even bad writing is still writing.

Writing Badly Gives You a Starting Point to Fix

This leads to the final point of why bad writing is so important. It gets the story out of your head! With the story out of your brain (or soul, if that’s where you feel your writing comes from) and on a page—no matter the state it’s in—you can then set about fixing it. As Jodi Picoult says, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”

— K.M. Allan

27 thoughts on “The Importance of Writing Badly

  1. Totally true! It’s like building a supporting structure on which to hang the story. I write my first drafts on paper, with a pen. That stops me from re-reading what I’ve written (because it’s only semi-legible) and gets the story out of my head, as you say.

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  2. I love this post. It’s so refreshing, especially after writing hundreds of appalling sentences in an attempt to get my story told. It’s good to know that writing badly is ‘allowed’ and if anything, it’ll make the edit more interesting…I hope!
    Another awesome post, thank you ❤

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  3. I do a loooooot of crappy writing when I’m finally well settled in the story. But honestly, the first paragraphs I put down when I start writing a new book are ALWAYS the best – they may not even end up there, at the start of the book, after I start working on it, perhaps they end up in chapter three, or fifteen, or wherever. BUt the truth is, those first lines with me are always the best writing I do in a book, and I always end up feeling that from there it’s always gonna go downhill, I can never seem to achieve the same amount of grandeur as I did with those first few paragraphs. Sometimes I just want to hit delete on all I wrote after those first lines, but I have come to the conclusion that, even though I still find those to be the best parts of my writing, it’s not because they’re such good writing examples but because that’s where the story started coming out of me, and that makes those paragraphs really exciting for me, to the pint when everytime I re-read them, I get the same feeling of intense joy and excitment that I’m writing down a new story.

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  4. L.M. Durand

    Yes. I always make sure the plot and the story works before I get into the writing per say, but you have to start somewhere and it’s usually bad.

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  5. Perfection is not something that is acquired. It wears a cloak of practice and this cloak is invisible. I genuinely don’t believe in perfection. Nothing is perfect hear. Not even the coffee. We’ll learn more when we make mistakes and remain imperfect.
    Great words and do live well.

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  7. This is such valuable advice! 😀 If you write terrible stuff, it gives you so many kick-off ideas from there, and even if you’re getting frustrated that your writing’s not good, at least it’s THERE. You can edit it however you want once you start. Looking forward to more great tips!

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