Embracing the bad

Writers block has always been a dreadful enemy. There are several writing projects I have thrown away on encountering it. Ideas that seemed clear, compelling and were all but bursting out of my head, simply did not translate into meaningful prose. My blogging was intermittent and my short-stories were incomplete. I left behind a string of work-in-progress projects that I never returned to.

Why did this happen? Because I was trying to write well every single time. If what resulted did not read well enough, I postponed it and gradually abandoned it.

The solution is not to give up, but to write badly. This is the advice every veteran writer gives. After some bad writing, the good stuff will flow and what is important to retain this faith.

The lesson here is not restricted to writing. How to come up with a good business idea? Think of 30 bad ones. How to write a good joke? Write about 10 bad ones. How to make a good composition? Start with a few bad songs.

The world at large discourages this behaviour. It celebrates the extraordinary and ignores the mediocre. Its indifference transforms faith into fear,  and keeps us from putting our work out. The handful of people who do the opposite, who consistently ship regardless of quality, are world-class performers. To investigate this, one needs to merely look at their earliest work.

The perfect can oftentimes be the enemy of the good. Under the same circumstances, the bad can be its friend.

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