Pin It

Why Writing Rubbish is Productive

By Glen Allsopp of ViperChill

Since the majority of my working day is now consumed with the task of writing, I’m constantly looking for ways to streamline the process. If I can get quality results in a shorter amount of time, I can spend the rest of each day doing other things that I love.

Unfortunately, my creative mind doesn’t always want me to have spare time to read, chill with friends, or go and watch a movie. It makes me rely on idea files I keep tucked away whenever something pops into my head or if I have abused that resource already, I can spend over an hour mind-mapping ideas just to have content to write.

Even once we know what to write however, it can be hard to actually get going. Removing all distractions and getting in the writing zone is not an easy task. Especially if we haven’t even decided on an article outline or sufficient title. In the past I would put off writing until I knew exactly what I was going to say, so I could be as productive as possible in front of my computer. Now, I’m completely the opposite.

Just Write

Instead of waiting for ideas to come to me or the perfect structure in my head, I now just write. Time and time again, this has proven to be more effective for me than any other process. I may not be making much sense when I write and I almost certainly won’t stop with a copy fit enough to publish, but I will have something. And that’s all that matters.

A workshop I attended recently cemented this idea. I was surrounded my award winning financial journalists, newly signed authors and seasoned writing professionals and they all had the same thing to say: just write. Stop waiting for your environment to be perfect and half of the words to be in your head, just write whatever comes to mind.

Don’t Stop

With so many words going down on the page, it can be tempting to make changes as you go along. I ask you to at least try not to do this and see how things go. If you need to make a huge change that you think you might forget in a few minutes then go ahead, but for everything else, let it go. It can be hard enough to get into the writing flow, so for heaven’s sake don’t lose it because you missed a punctuation mark or you spot a slight grammatical error.

Streamline the Process

Of course, the finished result will be far from desirable. And that’s OK. Something on the page which is messy and needs cleaned up is far, far better than having nothing at all. I’m actually cringing at half of the things I’ve wrote so far in this draft but thankfully, you probably won’t get to read them.

Once you actually start writing things down, the structure tends to create itself. You may have an extra point to make in an earlier paragraph or realise a certain sentence does not fit in with the article. If that is the case, then add or subtract where necessary.

A great quote that really drives this point home comes via Mark Twain:

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.”

Once you’ve “babbled” on and said what you need to say, you can work on making your points in fewer words. You can remove repetition and just focus on the message that you want to get across.

Want to Practice? Check out Nanowrimo

Next month marks the launch of another excellent project for future novelists, Nanowrimo. The aim of the project is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. This year, it is taking place in November. 2008 saw over 100,000 entries with over 15,000 making the actual 50,000 word limit necessary. Nanowrimo is unique because its focus is more on quantity than quality. That’s right; quality comes last. Like many of the points here, Nanowrimo is based around actually getting the words out there rather than stressing about the small stuff.

Sure, it’s important to focus on structure and details now and then, but you can only do so much in your head until you actually have to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

So, the next time you’re stuck for ideas or feel you need to brainstorm before you get going, turn off that incessant mind chatter – and just write. Trust me, it’s the greatest realization you’ll have.

Glen is the author of ViperChill, a blog on Viral Marketing. His aim is to help people build remarkable websites that others naturally want to talk about.

Read below or Add a comment...

20 thoughts on “Why Writing Rubbish is Productive”

  • Cathy says:

    Writing has become a good of 80% of my life, it has nurtured me in times of need, it has opened new channels of social networking, and will for sure be a life time experience once the book is out.
    thanks for your post.
    Cathy

  • What a great post during NaNoWriMo. The hard part for me is trusting that it’ll work out, even if I don’t have all the words in my head and even if I don’t edit as I go. Maybe this is why I’m so behind on my word count!

  • Great post, Glen! I did NaNoWriMo last year and I found it really helpful. I try to write as much as possible as often as I can. Even though a lot of it isn’t very good, I really do believe it makes me a better writer.

  • I have a file folder on my computer called “justwrite.” When it is time to just plain write, I go there, start a file, and just write for a while.

  • Jeff Adair says:

    Actually…NaNoWriMo is going on now as we speak and will be finished at the end of November…

  • This is a proven technique for me as well.

    I use a related technique for creating blog posts: I hit new post, write as much as I can, hit new post again, repeat until I’m done. Later, I wade back through everything extracting the wheat from the chaff.

  • Prime says:

    just write! if you want to be a writer, just write and continue writing. i”ve been a journalist for the last 15 years, blogger (onand off) for the last three years and i learned that the only way for m to finish a news story or a blog ost is to stop waiting for that “ideal moment’ (what rhe hell is that anyway?) and just start writing something.

  • yea definitely “just writing” is the way to go !

  • Sphurthy says:

    People these days are quitting good jobs and are making decent money by writing. There are many opportunities in this regard.

  • Well aside from being a month late (“Next month marks the launch of another excellent project for future novelists, Nanowrimo.”) and missing the fact that NaNoWriMo is in November EVERY year, it’s a great article with some fine points.

  • Natalie says:

    I got to this post from Scribina on Facebook. The thing I love about (eventually) coming around to the idea of putting pen to paper with less self-editing and more WRITING, is that it’s a good ego check; the more quantity there is, the less well I think of myself. Which is a good thing – I find ego is the enemy of art practice. When I write little, I think every word is precious because it came from meeeee, the stingy pen of meeeee. When I write a lot, not only does the quality of my best work improve, but I am able to be gentler on myself with the dross because there’s just so darn much of it, I can’t be that hard on myself.

    Thanks for writing this! You’ve given me a chance to put down some ideas that have been floating around my brain for several years now.

  • Eric C says:

    I’m a huge fan of zero drafts. Virtually every thing I write comes out as rubbish first.

  • Kaushik says:

    I have long file of articles that I will probably never use.

    Thanks, great pointers!

  • Helen says:

    An excellent article, with a perfect example of how important research is to writing.

  • This is so true. At the end of the day we have to let the writing flow. Sometimes it deserves flushing, not publishing, but at least it’s out. Suppressing the urge to write is plain unhealthy. Thanks for all the creative and positive encouragement.

  • TESTER says:

    Testing …

    Writing RUBBISH!

  • Fatibony says:

    Writing has become a part of me. I always carry with me what call I an idea book.. it sometimes looks a mess but the key I learnt is Just get it down and refer back to later, its certainly has helped ..Grt post thanks for sharing

  • mk akan says:

    i need to start writing rubbish.
    i love this post,sometimes we stress ourselves struggling to write the opposite of rubbish..
    i think writing rubbish is a great way of being creative…
    just write what comes to your head is much easier…..rubbish or more rubbish

  • just write! if you want to be a writer, just write and continue writing. i”ve been a journalist for the last 15 years, blogger (onand off) for the last three years and i learned that the only way for m to finish a news story or a blog ost is to stop waiting for that “ideal moment’ (what rhe hell is that anyway?) and just start writing something

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge