The Ways I Fail at Writing

After being buried deep in a writing and rhetoric chasm for the last two years, I’m finally near the end of an egregious process. I want writers to succeed just as I have. So, now I will share the best ways to fail at writing.

  1. I fail at writing… when I forget that it is a process.

Every writer has a system for sussing out wonderful literary work. But if you know time is not on your side, the worst thing you can do is write nothing. Remember, it’s an idea game and theses and themes are not determined by grabbing the first buzz word that floats to the surface. The best writers play. In academic writing, students forget how to play. But playing with words is the best way to ensure that your ideas, essays, projects, and presentations retain vigor and excitement.

THE WRITING PROCESS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. Often, instructors demand perfection from students while forgetting that most of us became English majors because we loved something praiseworthy about writing and storytelling. We did not become grammarians to suck all the joy out of the writing craft.

2. I fail at writing… when I see deadlines and not ideas.

There are deadlines. While every writer adheres to deadlines, the deadline is not the prime motivation. If writing is having a conversation, the deadline is simply the time the conversation wraps.  The great ideas emerge from reading, reading, discussing, noting, highlighting, and re-reading. The response to another author’s writing will change several times over the natural course of a story’s digestion.

3. I fail at writing… when I stop asking questions.

Many forget that reading literature is mostly asking questions about it. Writing is your window into making those pressing questions real and answerable. The worthy questions are the kind that we haven’t stopped thinking about when class ended.

4. I fail at writing… when I don’t respect that it takes several drafts to get “perfection”.

Every writer writes garbage before perfection emerges. The point is to follow the ideas to a clear purpose.

5. I fail at writing… when I try to write in order.

Do not be afraid of what comes first. Write the body paragraphs first. Maybe, write the conclusion first. But WRITE first. Then, edit and revise. You will be surprised how the change reduces your stress level.

Final note:

Some people write with music to stimulate their creative energy. Some work best with complete silence. Some need mess around them to work. Some are neat as a pin. Find the writing environment that works best for you because consistent writing relies on PASSION and MOTIVATION.


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