“Dare to be bad”

I came upon a bit of prolific writing advice that really struck me: “Dare to be bad.”

It struck me because many writers feel immense pressure to make things perfect on the first try. Most people are familiar with the cliche of a writer spending hours trying to find the right word, throwing papers of rejected lines out of their typewriter into the trash can, and summarily drinking themselves into oblivion.

Daring to be bad is a refutation of that perfectionism. The idea is liberating, and it might be the key to creativity and writing and publishing fast in a competitive environment where it’s necessary to pay bills and buy groceries.

The biggest enemy of any writer is the critical side of your brain, which should have a very limited role in the creative process. Perhaps even no role. The thrill of writing doesn’t come from hacking out individual words, trying to find the right one. It comes from entering a state of flow, where we are immersed in our stories for a few minutes before a negative voice inevitably enters our heads and tells us it sucks.

If you give yourself permission to be bad, that voice has far less power. Instead of being paralyzed with indecision and self-doubt, you can just say, “I know it’s bad, but I’ll fix it later in editing.” What matters most is getting the words down, reaching your daily word count goal, and finishing the novel. That’s the victory to gun for.

And in my opinion, “being bad” is the only way I know to consistently put out high word counts day after day. And by bad, I don’t mean “bad” per se. Just “useable.”

As long as you’re sticking to your outline, your narrative can be less than perfect. That’s the beauty of writing. It can be changed later. You can stew on it for a few weeks and revisit those passages on your first edit.

Few artistic pursuits have this level of control. It’s easier to fix a mistake in writing than in sculpting, for example.

So, we should use that to our advantage. I’ll be trying to keep that in mind during my next writing sessions. Being bad is underrated, at least where writing is concerned.

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