27 September 2011

Writing as badly Awfuler as I Possible Could

We all have bad writing experiences. Stories where we think…

Why on earth did I write that?

Which is usually followed by…

Why on earth did I show it to someone?

Yet, at the same time, we also know about the “awful” first drafts that we must go through in order to get the story done. If all we expected was perfection of ourselves, we wouldn’t get a word on a page. Right?

If we keep at it, we have that transition of really awful…to readable…to publishable. If we’re lucky (or determined) we get to that last phase and find ourselves…well, published.

But what if you could make it as a really awful writer?

Well, I read an article recently about a writer who won the bad writing award. My first reaction to this? Is writing really bad if you’ve won an award?

According to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a contest sponsored by San Jose State University, writers prepare the worst beginning to an imaginary novel. (In case you’re wondering, the very first winner of this awful beginning contest started out with, “It was a dark and stormy night…” Snoopy, anyone?)

I know…when you think of awful beginnings, you’re thinking of your first and only attempt at writing an apocolyptic short story, too, aren’t you?
But don’t you have to work hard to write that really awful beginning, too? To put in all those excessive descriptions that go on too long…to include those adverbs that we’re all told to avoid…to tell and not show…to write with exclammation points!...to write what we don’t know…to make our characters as plastic as a barbie doll…

The thing is we learn along the way. We learn about what we should and shouldn’t put in stories. What works and doesn’t work. So, we all need a really horrible first draft…but should it be so bad that we think…I don’t care what I have learned so far…

Because to me…I do care what I’ve learned so far, and even though I need to write out that first draft, I don’t believe that I should throw away everything that I have learned. So, writers…write out that first draft…write as badly and as awfully as you need to…but don’t forget what you’ve learned along the way.

So, with that…here’s to all of us….here’s to the writers who keep trying, whether it’s good or bad...here’s to the writers who keep learning…here’s to the writers who keep creating and keep going …here's to those of us who keep dreaming...to those of us who never stop...to those of who never let it be "just talk"...

Here’s to the good, the bad, and to the clich├ęd…


  1. Great post, Nicole! We definitely do learn along the way, & I believe writing a horrible first draft simply means we finally put down the foundation to build an incredible story.

  2. I once got ripped a new one with a story of mine that started out with a cliche about a black hole. The people "enlightening" me didn't realize I had written a spoof! LOL! I love your line "usually followed by, why on earth did I show it to someone?" Ha ha ha!

  3. Ha ha! I can laugh, but this might be me in the coming weeks, writing a truly awful story!

  4. That was awesome. And so is your blog! Consider me a new follower. :)

  5. A very impressive article. Well prepared. Very motivating!! Go off on to facilitate way
    My blog is about [url=http://www.cheapwebsitehostingreviews.net]JustHost Reviews[/url].

  6. Great article! Using the examples you did and the real feelings of fear and frustrations tempered with the fun of writing makes it really work.

    Writing the best you can is NOT always easy for me. I have had so many pieces that I thought were good and turned out to be simply awful. I continue to learn a lot from pieces like yours!

  7. Here from ICLW #76

    If I'm not mistaken, the winner is chosen each year and read on NPR. Glory in the awfulness, which is kinda cool.

    I am enjoying your blog. Thanks for posting this!

  8. It’s so lucky for me to find your blog! So great! Just one suggestion: It will be better and easier to follow if your blog can offer rrs subscription service.

  9. @Alicia - Thank you!! yes, very true. I'm learning that myself with my latest project! That first draft just
    sets up that ground work, that's SO important!

    @Deena Safari - Awwww, don't you hate when that happens!!! I don't know what's worse --- being "enlightened" in that way or them just not getting it! :) Glad you enjoyed my post!!

    @Nancy Thompson - you may just end up laughing anyways!! :) SOmetimes with that first draft we can't take ourselves too seriously!

    @David Powers King - Thank you David!!

    @jjiraffe - THank you!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!!

  10. @Anonymous - there actually is one! But it's hidden within the widgets for my blog. I'm trying to find a new blog template that is a bit more cleaned up! Thank you for reading!!

  11. So true. It seems the more I work with writing, the better I become and the more enjoyable the story.

  12. @DM - very true!! If I keep it and work on it a little at a time, I am more likely to keep writing and less likely to see it as work!!

  13. Love this post! So true not just in writing but in everyday life!


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