Sometimes I write bad words. No, let me correct that. Sometimes I write truly awful words. Shocking. The thoughts in my head good sentences will not do. Like that one. Sometimes sloppy thinking meets sloppy sentence structure and before I know it I’ve confused myself never mind anyone else.
But that’s okay.
It’s okay to write bad words.
It can be difficult not to sink into the Slough of Despond when the words don’t flow, but if you are sitting there with your head in your hands and mentally melting door knobs with an Edvard Munch type scream, let me just point out this one thing,
You know that they are bad words.
How do you know that?
Because your mind is comparing them to a checklist of things that you ought to be producing and sending up the red flag. Even if you don’t know why they are wrong your mind is gently prodding you in the right direction. Our wonderful minds notice and compare so many more things than reach our conscious awareness. Each one of us is brighter than we think.
If you know that something isn’t right you are at least halfway to fixing it. So put down the knitting Miss Marple, put aside the tisane Poirot, and get the little grey cells working on the problem. Each case of mistaken word identity, adjective kidnapping, or punctuation theft that you solve makes you significantly better as a writer, and sometimes the solutions that evade us the longest are the lessons that teach us the most.
Consider the blank page before you. Does it make you anxious?
Are you feeling time pressure?
Do you realise that you are god?
In the universe of this page, you rule. Dive to the depths of the ocean. Visit other galaxies. Live the life of a soccer mom. Drive the despair of a serial killer. Paint the colours of the forest. Write the words you can never say. Invent a community. Change history. Delete time and re-arrange it.
I am currently re-reading The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury.
It’s a book that I recommend to every writer.
It is a collection of masterful short stories held together by an eerie overarching narrative. It’s by turns engaging and disturbing. Something for everyone.
” The sun was gone. Now the first stars were shining and the moon had brightened the fields of grass and wheat. Still the Illustrated man’s pictures glowed like charcoals in the half light, like scattered rubies and emeralds, with Rouault colours and Picasso colours and long pressed out El Greco bodies.
“So people fire me when my pictures move. They don’t like it when violent things happen in my illustrations…”
We read a lot. Books, magazines, cereal packets, shampoo bottles. Sometimes even the previous day’s work. We also collect words. Words are scrumptious. Words make thoughts.
words make write good
I’m being silly now but you get the point. If you want to write my friends then you need to read.
Read as though you are afraid someone will take the words away. Read things you like. Read things you dislike. Read things you might like. Put the words in there. The words make thoughts. Then thoughts make words. Like bunnies only less hoppy.
Today I read “How not to write Bad” by Ben Yagoda. It’s an excellent overview of common writing problems and how to avoid them if that’s your bag. Of course you might not want to avoid them. Look at you smarty pants.