Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Give Yourself Permission to Write Badly, and Just Begin!

Filed under: Author Tips — Larry James @ 8:30 am
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A&SWritePoorlyWhen I wrote my first article, I immediately became bogged down with making sure everything was perfect. That didn’t work very well for me. My first writing coach, Peggy Moss Fielding (1927-2014, Tulsa, OK) once told me that if I wanted to be a writer I needed to write at least one hour everyday. I almost stopped before I began. My first thought was, “I really don’t have time!”

I was wrong. You “always” have time to do the things you really want to do.

Often you will sit in front of a blank page. To get over the biggest writer’s hurdle – the blank page – just start writing. Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper. Writing for most isn’t easy. It takes mental energy – and often emotional energy, too.

After much trial and error, I found that I needed to set aside a time when I was most creative. For me, that’s late in the evening. I’m definitely not a morning person, so that did not work for me.

This requires concentration and privacy. Don’t let anything else distract you. Find a quiet place. Turn off the TV, disconnect from the Internet, tune out the rest of the world, sit down, and begin to write something every single day. Be disciplined.

For me, I usually am listening to some quiet jazz as I write. Jazz inspires me. My hero, Miles Davis once said, “”When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.” When a jazz musician plays jazz, although he may not consciously know what the next note will be, he trusts his intuition enough to fearlessly play it. It’s the same with writing. Often the next word will inspire me to go back and rewrite the entire sentence to make it better. Some soft classical music in the background may inspire you.

first-drafts-poster-2“In private correspondence the great mystery writer Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn’t write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated – quietly strengthening his willpower.” Haruki Murakami

When I say, start by getting something – anything – down on paper, if you are unsure of what you will be writing about, write down the first thing that comes to mind. Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them. At least, now you have started.

Belle Beth Cooper suggests that you use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs. I agree. I begin with an idea and write as much as I can in the most simple language I can – not being concerned about making corrections as I write. Just write. After I have several pages, I will go back over them and see if any other thoughts about the subject surface.

Often I will Google my topic to see what others may have said. Careful here! Never copy word-for-word what other writers may have written. A few sentences used as a quote with a proper acknowledgement and a link to their article is okay. If your mind like an idea, express it in your own words.

“Allow yourself to write poorly, to write a weak, uninteresting story or a boring, grammatically incorrect poem. You’ll never succeed if you don’t allow yourself a few failures along the way. Make it your business to understand grammar and language. Do you know a noun from a verb, a predicate from a preposition? Do you understand tense and verb agreement?” ~ Melissa Donovan

One of the benefits of writing is that you have a chance to edit your work before the reader gets to read it. Let go of your inner editor. Editing is best saved as one of the last things you do. Sometimes, if I’m not sure the article is complete, I may lay it aside and let it rest for a day or two. Once I pick it up I can begin reading with a fresh mind and nearly all the mistakes will catch my eye. It’s wise to proofread everything you write at least three times before posting your work on your blog or for publication.

If you are writing a book, it’s important to hire an editor. They are well worth the money and will make sure that everything is 100% accurate.

Be sure you have a dictionary and a thesaurus available whenever you are writing. In my final edit, I will look for different words that I can use to make it more interesting. Using the same old words can be boring to the reader.

I dare you to write something everyday – without fail. – Larry James

You may want to join a writers’ group so you can gain support and encouragement from other writers. It’s comforting to know that you may not be the only one who is experiencing difficulties.

I carry a notebook wherever I go. I often will get ideas from magazines I read. I’ll make a few notes even if it doesn’t seem relevant at the time. Maybe later it will be. I’ve been known to write down one brief idea and sit there and nearly complete an article. When I get back to my office, I enter everything I wrote into my computer.

Hilary Mantel once said, “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem.”

Wanna be a professional writer? Just write!

Today I often spend more than one hour writing each day. Peggy Moss Fielding totally inspired me to begin writing my first book. (Thanks, Peggy! You created a writing monster!) Since then I have written 5 books, more than 2,700 articles, have four blogs (something new goes up every 4th day on each of them) and I have 4 Websites.

BONUS Articles: Scribble, Scribble… Write, Write!
6 of the Best Pieces of Advice from Successful Writers
The Importance of Editing Your Book BEFORE Publication
So… What About “Word Choice?”



Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at:

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