When I was a kid, I wrote constantly. I would write for hours every day on several novels at once. I’d have a fantasy novel and two or three romance novels going on at the same time. I had a typewriter and I taught myself to touch type so I could get as much out on paper as possible. When I didn’t have access to my typewriter, I would write all my novels out by hand. Whether I typed or wrote, I would always leave a large margin at the bottom of the page and illustrate my stories.
I recently found a huge stash of old novels I wrote at my grandmother’s house. I could not believe the sheer volume. I would carefully glue the typed pages into blank journals and there were several boxes of journals. It blew my mind.
I read it. It was terrible. but obviously fun for me to write. I didn’t care about logic or realism. I was broad sweeping and melodramatic to the extreme. The characters were very shallow and either painfully cliched or so deliberately random that their actions made no sense at all.
At some point, I realized that my writing wasn’t as good as the books I read. How could I ever hope to be a professional writer if I thought it wasn’t worth reading what I wrote?
I was too impatient to edit my work. My few editing attempts were stymied by over-thinking myself into a corner. Gradually I just gave up writing all together. For almost two decades, I’ve wanted to write but couldn’t get started. I would only procrastinate and sigh heavily. Writing conferences depressed me. I totally removed myself from the craft.
I wanted to get back into writing, but my mental block stopped me. I was so terrified of writing stories that were barely mediocre. So in order to start writing again, I had to radically change my goals.
So I’ve started a “suck” blog. I am going out of my way to write the most awful junk ever put to paper. It will be cliched, over dramatic and have giant plot holes. The dialog will be as stilted as possible. The plot will randomly stall and wander off in pointless directions.
I will write copious amounts of absolutely dreadful, eye-wateringly bad stories. But I will do it for at least 10 minutes a day, every day. Once I get a good enough habit that I can reliably write 4 terrible short pieces a week, I will make the blog public and share my horrible writing with the world.
I am not waiting for National Novel Writing Month. I have begun the Ugly American Novel.