Why We Must Write Poorly

Today, I am honored to have Jim Rubart as a guest on my blog. Jim is an author, teacher, writing coach and mentor. I am blessed to be able to share his words and wisdom with you.

Philip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield said, “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.”

G.K. Chesterton said, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”

Which gentleman you agree with will have a profound impact on your writing. (And your life.)

  • I was abysmal at walking when starting out, but eventually I became fairly adept.
  • I had a great deal of trouble getting more food into my mouth than on my clothes when I started eating, but eventually I picked up enough skill to not completely embarrass myself at dinner parties.
  • And after numerous attempts, I did finally jump my bicycle over 14 logs laid out in front of the homemade wooden ramp I created in my backyard as a kid, broken wrist not withstanding.

Silly examples, no?

But you understand my point. When we’re toddlers, or babies, or a 12 year old kid who dreams of being a wild man on a motorcycle when he grows up, we go for it. Who cares if we do it badly? The reality that we’re screwing it up isn’t on our radar.

However, something starts shutting down when we hit a certain age doesn’t it? Or, put another way, the radar flicks on and we start seeing the blips on the screen that say, “You’re lousy at that! And everyone can see it!”

Maybe it’s pressure from a boss or teacher or parent to ‘get it right!’ Maybe it’s friend that points out how inept we are, and we get embarrassed. Or maybe (worst of all) we get shamed from ourselves.

Whether it’s writing or relationships or cooking or trying a new sport or hobby, the insidious chorus of lies often kicks in and says, “Whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well.” and we add the refrain, “And I certainly can’t do this well, so I’m not going to even try.”

I wish I could tell you I never struggle with this. But of course I do. Most people do. We’re not alone. So what say we make a choice from this moment on to do things poorly together?

Because at the end of our lives I think we’d rather say, “That story might not have been great, but at least I wrote it,” than, “Nope, I never attempted writing that novel, but at least it wasn’t lousy.”

And there’s this funny thing that happens when we try again and again and again. We start to walk, then run, then fly our bikes over … uh, maybe not the last one … let’s just say we start to fly.

To your and my, poor efforts.


Visit Jim at his website: http://jameslrubart.com

He also offers an exciting writing course: https://www.rubartwritingacademy.com




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