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Write Terribly: The Secret to Becoming a Better Writer

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

You’ll do a lot of writing in your lifetime. Whether it be sending a text, formulating an email to a boss, finishing a last-minute paper, or creating a book, the writing process can be a daunting one. It may be difficult for you to get your writing started, or you may be faced with a serious case of writer’s block. The real secret to improving your writing skill is to write terribly.   

My English class has listened to the podcast Writing Roots throughout the semester. Their biggest motto is “to write selfishly and to write terribly.” I’ve always wanted to write short stories and even my own book one day, but I can never seem to get myself to start large projects, and these dreams remain nothing more than dreams. I stress the importance of adding as many details as possible and having flawless grammar. In turn, I never finish the writing I started and I get caught up in insignificant details. I block my creative flow by bombarding thoughts of self-doubt into my head. Is my writing good enough? Will people want to read this? Writing Roots taught me to write selfishly. It doesn’t matter what other people think. I should write what I want to write and with the goal of telling a story that needs to be told. My best writing has come from allowing myself to explore and be messy. Nothing is perfect by the first draft. Word vomit, jot down random ideas, or simply put the pen down and revisit a sentence later. Just keep writing and go back to edit the finer details later. The only question you should ask yourself is, “Does it make sense to you?” Those other questions will only hinder your ability to write and create something you enjoy. Everyone else’s opinions should come second.  

“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” – Edgar Rice Burroughs

Writing can be a long process, especially those research papers. You might not even know where to get started. Since it takes me so long, I tend to push it off altogether. However, I always found that once I write just one sentence, a plethora of ideas flow out of me and onto the page. Maybe start with an outline of the main ideas, then fill the larger details in between.

I compare writing to going to the gym. I dread the thought of going to the gym all day. Sometimes I’ll even create excuses not to go. But once I get up and enter the gym, I get after it. And I always thank myself for squeezing in a workout, even if it was difficult. The biggest hurdle with anything is just getting started. Find a spot and a time that allows you to write at your best and helps you get your writing started with no interruptions. This could be the library, late at night, or after a meal. Whatever works for you is what works for you; you just have to experiment to find this out.

The truth is, sometimes you’ll have to write when you are not inspired. I was certainly not inspired to write my history paper the other night. Sometimes you just have to sit down and start on what you need to accomplish. It can be a terrible first draft, but at least you have something you can edit. Writing something down will probably help you brainstorm more ideas too.  

The more you practice anything, the better you’ll get at it, and this includes writing. The more you’ll write, the more you’ll discover yourself as a writer. Writing has been a major creative outlet for me, and I know it can be for many others once the stigma against the writing process is broken down. You don’t have to be a bestselling author for your writing to be valid. You just have to write and never stop. You’ll get where you want to be with dedication and time.  

Isabel Crabtree

Illinois State '25

Hello everyone! I am a marketing student at Illinois State University. I love all things music, true crime, and self-improvement. I write to inspire and share what I've learned. Thank you for reading!