Even Bad Writing is Good for You

I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m not a very good writer. The book I wrote in 2001 is garnering just as much attention as it did fifteen years ago – which is next to none – and the few sales it has earned have not produced reviews. This leads me to believe that it’s not only not good, but it’s downright crappy. Like, seriously, not even good enough to warrant a critical lashing. But that’s okay. You know why? Because I learned so much from writing that book.

I learned that I’m not a half bad illustrator (okay, I’m exactly a half bad illustrator – but that means I’m also halfway good), and I learned that writing a story, even one the rest of the world would ignore, was a great way to get an important message to my young son who otherwise disregarded my attempts to enlighten him with life lessons. I’m also learning how to craft a better story. The lack of interest in my first book has encouraged me to learn, so instead of spending time on TV watching stories other people tell, I’m devouring anything I can find to learn how to write stories other people want to hear.

Writing is also lubricating my executive functions. A lot of workplaces are streamlining processes to make employee churn cheaper and easier to manage. That means less thinking and more operating on autopilot is taking place in an 8-10 hour day. That’s a lot of opportunity for the brain to turn to mush. Writing is forcing me to think up creative situations, articulate concise descriptions and mentally escape from the grind by imagining a world better than my own. In short, writing is massaging my atrophied brain.

I’ve started another book; hopefully I can do better this time. Even if the reception is exactly the same, though, it will have served its purpose. It won’t be about money or critical acclaim, it will be about exercise. Exercise for a brain that might otherwise go dull and limp in a lifeless corporate world.

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6 comments

  1. Not being a successful writer doesn’t make you a bad writer. Conversely being a successful writer is definitely no guarantee of talent. You write good blog posts, so in my opinion you’re a good writer. Like many bloggers (including me) you haven’t written a commercially successful book. Which doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. And commercially successful or not, having actually written a book is an awesome thing. You should definitely write more 🙂

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    • Oh my gosh. I was reading someone else’s blog post (about writing) when your comment came in, line by line, in my phone’s tiny notification bar. I sat and read it one line at a time, the rest of the world on pause. With every line, my smile grew wider – and by the end, you had put a tear in my eye.

      I can’t adequately convey how good this made me feel, James. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. ♡

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So much of “successful” writing is marketing and agents now. Plus, “what people want to hear” can be drivel. Take top sellers on Amazon direct publishing for example. If they don’t have to show up at a store and look the cashier in the eyes, people read a whole new level of trash. Maybe I’m being subjective and critical, but I believe there is a need now more than ever for literature that matters in a sea of pop fiction.

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  3. Experiences my friend, are very essential for writers, for they bring new thoughts and new stories to your pen, all by their own. We are half good writers after all!! 😅😅

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