You Have to Write Wrong to Write Right

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You have to write wrong to write right.The other day, I updated my Facebook status with a wish for a writing day. I said that anyone who wished to go home from work and write for the rest of the day could do so. One of my friends commented, “What if we can’t write right?” I joked that that’s when people were supposed to come see me. I then followed the comment with a more serious one: “Besides, you have to write wrong before you can write right.”

What I mean by that comment is that a person can’t obsess about writing right while in the midst of writing. The writing must be done first, no matter how wrong or clunky it is. It’s only when a person has words on the page that he or she can begin to examine whether the words are the best ones or whether a sentence should be broken into two.

It’s also true that no one awakens one morning and knows all the writing rules. I don’t know them all, and I’ve been writing for years. I probably still write some things wrong and don’t know it yet. Perhaps one day I will, but I’m not going to worry about it. I have more writing to do, even if that means writing wrong in order to write right.

Image: Pascal Maramis (CC BY 2.0)

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Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media and the founder of Write Right. She's a copywriter, editor, poet, and artist. You can find Erin on .

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24 comments
Soulati | Hybrid PR
Soulati | Hybrid PR

You're so right, Erin! We have to stumble before we walk, etc. etc.  My archive post yesterday is my first blog post (of relevance), and I was surprised it was decent enough to re-publish. What about your very first post? Is it acceptable? 

Latest blog post: Sex, Drugs, Scandal -- BAM!

rdopping
rdopping

Hahahaha....love this post. Erin, you are SO SERIOUS that I can't help but chuckle. It's very endearing. I love that someone asked you what to do if they can't write right. Sheer brilliance.

Such good advice here. I do that much more now. When I first started I would edit as a I went and two things happened. I lost tract of the flow of the piece and it took way longer to complete. Surely that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Cheers miss. Have a fabulous Friday!

Hajra
Hajra

You write right.. always! ;)

Its like stumbling before learning how to walk. But that doesn't stumble even after you have walked for years! And then you are there with your red ink to correct us!

Latest blog post: I am friends with weird people

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

Don't be dashing my hopes that you aren't perfect Erin. :)

Great post and a pertinent reminder that in order to succeed in writing, you must fail first. Just make sure to "fail forward" as they say. For me, the most difficult part of writing seems to be just getting the words on the page. Any words at all. Creative stimulus can be a tough cookie and those that have honed their creative skills like a faucet that you can just turn on and off are the ones that have won 3/4 of the battle.

KDillabough
KDillabough

I'll always remember the day when we first discussed the name "Write Right". It makes me smile:) And it puts me in mind of my reply to your comment on my blog today: "Nothing was ever created and perfected in the same moment." So write...just write...edit later:) Cheers! Kaarina

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing My very first one - of relevance - probably would pass muster. My very first post? No, not at all. It was more of a practice post. I was using Blogspot at the time, and, because I didn't know any better and couldn't think of a better name, I had titled the blog "Erin's Musings." Oh dear...

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

@rdopping I agree with Ralph, this is a great post. Once I've written something, I have to brace myself, knowing that the real work hasn't yet begun.  Maybe I'm too old school, or just too old? :)

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@rdopping I have some silly friends. This one and I have commiserated over some poor email etiquette.

Yes, write first and edit later. I don't usually use outlines, but they can help with making sure you stay on track with the flow of a piece.

Also, I am serious. I'm just silly, too. :)

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@Hajra  Ha! If only I did write right all the time. Then again, I probably wouldn't like writing all that much if it were too easy to do.

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@John_Trader1 Sorry to disappoint. I'm not perfect. :)

Writing poetry has helped me with the curse of the blank page. I rarely know what I'm going to write. I just settle into my chair or sprawl on the floor with my notebook. I write one word, then another. Sometimes I find a poem; sometimes I find a tangled mess that leads nowhere. If I can get the first few words written, though, I usually can find my way toward some sort of ending.

I have come to believe that writing has much more to do with discipline than with inspiration. They're both needed, but discipline will get you through when inspiration is nowhere to be found.

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@KDillabough It's ironic that I can set aside the perfectionism when I'm in the midst of writing or drawing but struggle to do so when I look at my business.

Can you believe it's been a year already since we had that coaching session?

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@barrettrossie No, you're not too old or too old-school. If that's true, then I'm too old or old-school. ;)

Perhaps part of the reason we experience writer's block is not fear of the blank page but fear of having to judge our writing and of having to coax or batter it into what it's trying to be? @rdopping 

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@rdopping The font is Georgia. It's part of the Write Right style guide. :)

Maybe I can do a recap of my upcoming class or figure out how to share the presentation on the blog. We'll see.

ExtremelyAvg
ExtremelyAvg

@Erin F. @ExtremelyAvg @John_Trader1 I've traveled down a few blind alleys and thought I was trapped. It can take a lot of hours, pacing, and sometimes even a drive in the country, but I've always been able to write my way out of the corner.

I think that in fiction, one should always be able to find a loophole, because that is why they call it fiction.

Latest blog post: Lost Ideas

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@ExtremelyAvg @John_Trader1 Your comment reminds me of one of the rules from the Rules of Writingland (they resemble the rules from Zombieland). The rule has to do with not writing oneself into a corner. If you do end up in a corner, though, you have to escape somehow. I think that's why the other rules exist. :)

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@John_Trader1 I think I'm going to laugh every time you call me "EF." I finally have a nickname!

Erin F.
Erin F. moderator

@KDillabough Just about. I know it was around American Thanksgiving time.

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