When Bad is Good

When Bad is Good

​Ernest Hemingway put it best once when he said, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” I often stumble onto author websites and find myself awed by their unique beginnings. Some struggled while trying to pay the rent while others devoted themselves to studying at major universities. Some began writing in order to bleed their souls while others simply chased their dreams. In fact, the more I read up on writers’ backgrounds, the more I learned there was only one real factor that every writer had in common- ironically, they all sucked at one point.

Yes, believe it or not, some of your favorite authors were awful writers starting off. Louis L’Amour received two-hundred rejections for his works, Margaret Miller was told that her stories would never sell, and according to Simon Kernick, “Every last publisher in England rejected my first two books.” That’s right, almost every author stunk. Their writing just wasn’t good enough. So then, naturally it begs the question, how did they turn it all around?

While the answer might be considered a bit cliché, it doesn’t make it any less true. It seems that every author I’ve researched always did the same thing right. No matter how difficult writing became for them, no matter how difficult their circumstances, every one of them refused to quit. Yes, it’s true, elbow grease and stamina are the foundation for good writing. If you doubt me, I dare you to research three of your favorite authors, and I guarantee that at least one of them will have a point in their career where their struggles were only overcome by endurance, fortitude and grit. That’s because while they were learning to grin and bear it, they were also constantly learning ways to better their trade.

It’s no question that the literary world has its own customs and protocols. It’s no secret that some of the best writers were also some of the busiest readers. There’s no doubt that some of the most stylized writers of all times started off simplistic and boring. But in the end, there’s only one difference between a washed up writer and a successful one. The good ones learned patience and determination.

Are you struggling to write? Do you think that you don’t have what it takes to be a columnist, journalist, or author? Have people told you that your writing leaves something to be desired? Well guess what? Your not the first one nor will you be the last. What matters is that you gather the courage to continue blogging, penning poetry or writing that next great novel.

People often sacrifice happiness in order to avoid embarrassment. No one wants to be the fool with their head in the clouds. But unlike being a nuclear physicist or professional athlete, much of what makes authors great has little to do with natural talent. So long as a writer immerses themselves in their own creativity, much of the rest is simply  hard work, applying oneself, and stamina. In the words of Richard Bach, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

10 thoughts on “When Bad is Good”

  1. Hello Justin! Thanks for stopping by my little blog and following. I have, of course, returned the favour. Any new books, or even recent ones that you have on offer, via eBook, that you’d like me to review, please feel free to send me a link, or even a physical copy – I do have a post box – and I’ll hop to it. You are right, by the way, about elbow grease being needed to polish one’s skills. I spent the last year and a half (plus) writing around 5 to 7 thousands words a day, and up. At the end of the day, I learned that while that job would not make me as rich as Midas, it did help me become to be a better writer, in my humble opinion, and to look at my work more critically. While I’ll never become the next “big thing” I’ve gotten better at the craft. Sorry, this is a long winded way of saying that your post is, spot on! Cheers!

  2. Very well put, Justin. To be a writer, one has to write. Sounds simple, but just doing that makes up a huge chunk of the equation. Just keep at it.

    And welcome aboard eve’s apple! ~Marisa (mcproco.wordpress.com)

  3. LOVE this post. Always a great reminder for anyone, no matter their trade. And yes I agree wholeheartedly I always say, “If you want to write you’ve got to write.” A book, a blog, an article happens one letter, one word, one page at a time. Keep on friend! And thanks for following my work.

  4. That actually refers to other creative endeavors, as well. I think, one can know everything in theory, but practical doing is much more important. Doing and getting done is the key. However, it is important that the person has a personality and something to say, to show, to offer. Great post!

  5. A successful writer I knew was often irritated by those who felt that they could easily do the same, “if they had time.” She set a hundred thousand words written as a bare minimum before one might begin to produce anything worthwhile …

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