Monday, 10 December 2012

Rubbish is Okay

There's an excellent article in the January 2013 issue of Writing magazine, where Michael Madden admits to writing rubbish.  He demonstrates that it is okay to write rubbish.

I'm writing rubbish at the moment. (Hopefully not this blog posting!) I've been commissioned to write a project and my deadline is looming. At this moment in time, I still have 3,000 words to go, and they're doing my head in. They just don't seem to be coming out in the right style, or voice.

Despite this, I am still writing something. In amongst the other writing projects on this week, I know I will get those last 3,000 words written. In my opinion, along with the other 17,000 words, they'll be 3,000 words of rubbish. But, at least I'll have written some words. Then the real work will begin: turning the rubbish into gold.

There are many phrases and quotes in the writing world that echo this:

"Get it writ, then get it right."

"Books aren't written, they're re-written."

"Writing is 20% writing and 80% re-writing."

As the novelist Jodi Picoult once said, "You can't edit a blank page." But once you've got something down on paper (or on the screen), then you can begin to craft and hone it. A craftsman takes a raw material and chips away, making little tweaks and changes, eventually revealing the masterpiece that they've created.

So next time you find yourself stuck, and the words won't flow, or they don't seem to want to come out in the way you'd like them to, don't panic. Give yourself permission to write rubbish. Writing rubbish is okay, because you're still writing something. Something is better than nothing. It's possible to perfect something. With nothing, you have ... nothing.

So, go on. Write some rubbish this week. Who knows what you might be able to do with it.

Good luck.


  1. Yes I have tried that a few times, just had a basic idea and tried writing something down, then waited for fresh inspiration on a later day. It can work, never waste any words or thoughts.

  2. I agree. The first draft is often rubbish, but can usually be rescued and turned into something fine - well, acceptable. Its very existence can stimulate you to improve on it.