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Creative Summer

Writing Garbage

By August 2, 2019August 18th, 2020No Comments

Ever write something you’re proud of, package it up, show it to someone you admire, and then watch as they slowly deconstruct everything you’ve written? They give you helpful and constructive feedback, but you’re convinced that you’ll never be a wordsmith like Thoreau? If that’s the case, you’re certainly not alone. 

Writing really sucks sometimes.

It can be hard to take everything you’ve got and push your words out. Other times your words just flow only to find later in editing that they’re entirely abstract, even nonsensical.

So how do we stop the big bad writing block and write words that make sense?

Some people would tell you to take a break. Walk around, go for a hike, explore somewhere you’ve never been and grab hold of new inspiration. Certainly this sounds inviting. I mean, you’re being told, “Hey, I hear work’s not going well… go out and play!” But that’s not what makes a great writer.

Don’t take my word for it! Take the word of William Zinsser, a man who also thinks writing sucks and has a different solution for getting over your block: keep writing. Establish a daily schedule and stick to it.

Say you decide to find a little lake out in the middle of nowhere and live there in a cabin for a while. You’re going to find yourself on quite a learning curve. Sure, you’ve been camping and you know how to make a fire. You might even know how to fish. But by living in that cabin every day and pushing past your obstacles, you’ll develop your own strategies and improve as a cabineer (when you live alone in a forest you can make up your own words).

So what exactly am I saying? Write. Keep writing. Push through. Write garbage. You can go back and edit every sentence of garbage. You can rework it to make it less garbage, or you can edit it out. 

The point is, if you refuse to produce anything less than perfection, you’ll never get anywhere. Embrace your garbage, and use it as an opportunity to evaluate and improve.

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