Bad Writing

More
The process by which writing goes from bad to good--or even great--totally fascinates me. I think the main reason more people don't write is the sheer terror of confronting yourself on the page. Somewhere there are people who--on their first try--can make great writing. These people do not have bathrooms in their homes, as they are not human.

The rest of us are mere mortals, whom first drafts are, in the main, cringe-inducing. (Someday I'll post the original "sample chapter" that I submitted to publishers for The Beautiful Struggle. It was so dreadful that only house even bid on the book.) The ability to go to war with one's own awfulness requires a special kind of moxie. I believe that many people have the talent to write. But very few have the courage to rewrite. Even fewer have the courage to rewrite fail, and live to do the whole thing again. And even this gets it wrong. It makes it sound like all of this is some sort of choice. 

This is a long way of introducing a documentary about bad writing. I want to see it.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In