Something better than bad

Since 9th grade, I have thought of myself as a writer on the verge of writing Really Big Things. Important Things. Vital Things. Astounding Things.

There has only been one thing really standing in my way: I’m not writing.

It takes a constant infusion of morale boosting to be a writer. Notice I didn’t say a “great writer”. That’s no longer my goal. I have decided to settle for being a writer — someone who writes.

Just the simple act of writing takes an inordinate amount of inspiration to stave off the question, “Who cares?”

Seth Godin’s blog provides that inordinate amount of inspiration. In his post “Talker’s Block“, Seth points out that nobody ever really gets talker’s block. We talk all the time quite freely about stuff we know nothing about and never really worry about sounding dumb or inarticulate or incoherent. We don’t worry about it because we know no one’s really listening and what we say won’t last. Our words wash away moment to moment.

Not so with writing. We carry around the idea that everything set to page is indelible, permanent, an enduring testament to the quality of our inner lives. Such pressure.

How much better to simply get over it, realize that nobody is going to actually read what you are writing and then write anyway. Write in public. Write where people can see it, and don’t worry about being good enough to satisfy. Worry only about being better than bad.

Here’s what he says:

Writer’s block isn’t hard to cure.

Just write poorly. Continue to write poorly, in public, until you can write better.

I believe that everyone should write in public. Get a blog. Or use Squidoo or Tumblr or a microblogging site. Use an alias if you like. Turn off comments, certainly–you don’t need more criticism, you need more writing.

Do it every day. Every single day. Not a diary, not fiction, but analysis. Clear, crisp, honest writing about what you see in the world. Or want to see. Or teach (in writing). Tell us how to do something.

If you know you have to write something every single day, even a paragraph, you will improve your writing. If you’re concerned with quality, of course, then not writing is not a problem, because zero is perfect and without defects. Shipping nothing is safe.

The second best thing to zero is something better than bad. So if you know you have write tomorrow, your brain will start working on something better than bad. And then you’ll inevitably redefine bad and tomorrow will be better than that. And on and on.

Write like you talk. Often.

Lovely. Thanks, Seth.

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