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Being an awful writer isn’t awful

blank screen

“You empty bastard.”

That blank screen… it’s staring at me again…

The unblinking 21st century death-light of empty white space in a Microsoft Word doc is unflinching.  It’s that stupid muse not working.  Where’d she go?  Man, I have no inspiration. I’ll go watch T.V. and rot.

Every writer has done that at least 1000 times.

You have to defeat that white screen’s stare.  Just write.  It’s the only way to push that away.  Keep focused, and write write write write write write, do not burn out!

Write absolutely awful.  Smash that keyboard recklessly, and enjoy it.

I’m not telling you to set out to write terribly, but get your ideas and stories recorded.  It’s practice.  Just keep chugging along.  Don’t get stuck on the empty space.  Start slashing into the empty with your words, your thoughts.  Stream consciousness, keep typing, and don’t stop.  You can always edit later.

Editing is a completely separate state of mind and process versus the actual act of writing.  I started writing this article, and kept writing, and then wen’t back to edit.  I didn’t edit as I typed the first draft out.

First drafts are always, without a doubt, shit.  I agree with Hemingway on this.  Write not what comes next in the story, but what comes to mind next.  The feeling is liberating.  Doing so allows you to flow with the story, slamming out ideas one after another.

Clunky sentences, errors, weak imagery, cliches, etc, the whole gang will be there.  That’s okay though.  You’re second draft will swipe them away like dust off a table.

Some moments, overwhelming inspiration will strike you.

In these moments, drop whatever you’re doing to go frantically scribble down the idea, but, more often than not, your Muse is taking a nap or off for a walk, and it’s just you.  Even so, write.  Don’t wait for fleeing inspiration.  Writing like this will push you forward, help you explore and develop new ideas. You’ll sweat out all the bull in the first draft, and then begin polishing and re-writing.

But when you’re in the process of writing, don’t worry about revision.  Take down the other possibilities that pop in your head as you write, be free to explore the concepts and connections coming to mind.  That’s why they’re not concerned with stopping to revise at writing workshops.

I hope this helps guys.  I struggled with this for a bit, and spent time waiting for inspiration for my next poem.  Now I just start writing.  Something good always comes out of it, even if it’s a terrible poem.


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About the Author

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Jeremiah Walton is wary of bios, but there's the current sign they're flying: “Jeremiah Walton is founder of Nostrovia! Press & traveling bookstore Books & Shovels. They’ve featured at the NYC Poetry Festival, Oakland Beast Crawl, San Francisco Lit Crawl, Death Rattle, the Kansas City Poetry Throwdown, Cleveland’s Guide to Kulchur: Snoetry, among other lit fests, street corners, & living rooms across the country. They loath-themselves, & are struggling to find a healthy extension of the poem that incorporates publishing. Consistently confused, & trying to make space for compassion for the parts of myself I hate.” That feels like tattooing "love me" across my neck, but hopefully you get to know me thru my poems, not the accolades that are nothing more than memories to let go of.


  1. Colin Lichen

    Yep. Write it and it’s trapped. You can feed it and groom it or release it at a later date, but at least it won’t be lost.

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