Last night, I wrote a crappy poem.1 I then wrote a mediocre poem.* It probably was a crappy poem, too, but I decided to work with it. It was slightly better than the outright crappy one, and I needed to work on a poem. I needed to work through the crappiness. Why? I believe that embracing crappiness is a part of being a writer. It’s only in writing the crappy thing that I can move onto writing something better – if only by a few degrees.
In the past, I might not have said those things. I know I didn’t when I first started to write poetry. I wanted every poem to be perfect. I had to have an “idea” before committing to the act of writing a poem. Perfection is an unrealistic goal, and a rigid idea has no place in the writing life. Both put my writing in jeopardy. If I only write when I think – “think” being the key word – I have a perfect poem at the ready, I will write very little. If I stay too closely aligned with the “idea,” I don’t allow for other points of view or new directions.
If, however, I embrace crappiness, I’ll write many, many poems. Some of them will be failures. I’ll probably slash through them or write a note to myself stating that I should not spend any more time on the poem. Some of the poems will be mediocre. Some of them will have something salvageable. I may even find a few “perfect” poems (There aren’t any. Writers always are tweaking their texts, even following the publication of them.) in the midst of writing those crappy things.
I guess I’m trying to say, as Jeff Goins says, “Do the work.” Keep writing no matter how many times you fail or think that your writing is crap. Embrace the crappy writing even as you bid it farewell and abandon it on the shoulder of the road. Move from that place. Yes, recognize where you failed, but don’t stay there. Keep moving and keep writing.
¹I purposely did not read Michael Schechter’s post, “How To Be A Crappy Blogger: Just Jump In,” prior to authoring this entry. Any similarities are coincidental.
*Originally published January 2012