We’ve probably all heard the adage, “Give yourself permission to write crap,” but I want to talk about it because it’s such an important one. We must face the inevitability that not every word we type will be fabulous, and that’s okay. We are allowed to be imperfect. Welcome it, embrace it. It’s your right as a human.
There is nothing more stifling than staring down a blank page and thinking, “This MUST be good.” Because we know what’s really being said: “I must be good. If this isn’t good, then I am not good, and I must be good.” As if your very worth as a person hinges on it.
I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve struggled with this.
That pressure only produces the opposite effect: strained words, wooden words, words bogged down with expectation and disappointment. Screaming at your brain to be good just makes it cinch up tighter.
It’s the mirror-side of self-doubt. When you’ve written well in the past, been praised, found success, the pressure to keep it sets in. There’s this faulty logic that to be a good writer, you must always be good, or else you’re a fraud who never had it to begin with.
That is false. A bad story does not define you. A day where the words slog out of the pipe like mud-caked hairballs does not define you. It’s one story, one day. Or maybe it’s many stories and many days, and that’s alright too, because sometimes we have to trudge through dark woods to find the sunlit knoll.
Besides, the goal should not be to write with talent. The goal should be to write with joy. With curiosity. With excitement. Talent serves the ego, but joy serves the soul, and the soul will feed you in a way that ego never will. (This is massively harder to do than to say, I know. I’m still working on it, but it’s a mission I try to remember.)
And hey, paradoxical as it is, if you let yourself write crappier, you will write better. Win win. So write that crap. You’re allowed.