Thursday, March 1, 2018

Write Ugly by Susan Tuttle

Some would say there’s nothing more beautiful than a blank page. That wide expanse that allows a writer to dream of unending possibilities. And that feeling typically lasts all of 2.4 seconds for me (and others, if I can believe my other writer friends). See, many of us stare at that blank page unwilling to ugly it up with our words, because let’s be honest; rough drafts can be awfully ugly.

But you cannot do anything with a blank page. Oh, it’ll remain mar free and pristine, but no book reached The End in a pristine condition. For a writer to make progress, you have to…get this…WRITE. In all its messy, dreadful, ghastly, glory, you need to get words on that blank page.

My problem is with each new project I forget this. I’ve been staring at a blank page too long. But recently while editing a work by my crit partner I was reminded that ugly writing is made beautifully stunning in the editing stages. I’d watched her struggle with a story, unsure even at times of where it would go, but she put words on paper nonetheless. Then she began to shape them into a striking, witty, charming novel through individual word changes, sewing up plot holes, and reworking paragraphs. None of that could occur until after she had the story on paper though.

You see, our first draft allows us to get to know our characters and their story. It doesn’t matter if you’re a planner or pantser, there are elements of a story that don’t come out until you’re writing it. And once you reach the first The End you can go back with new insight on those threads and characters so that you’re able to enhance the story with what you’ve discovered.

But first you must write ugly. Give yourself the freedom to do that. It’s a challenge I’m issuing to myself and to you today. Now let’s go after those words!
Susan L. Tuttle lives in Michigan where she’s happily married to her best friend and is a homeschooling mom of three. She’s firmly convinced that letters were meant for words, not math, and loves stringing them together into stories that inspire, encourage, and grow women into who God created them to be. Romance, laughter, and cookies are three of her favorite things, though not always in that order. You can connect with Susan at her blog, Steps, Facebook, or Twitter.


  1. I needed to hear this. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh, yes ... that blank page can be paralyzing. The only way to get past it is to write something - ANYTHING! ;-)

  3. Sometimes when I first look at a blank page, I don't have a single thought in my head. Current story is a perfect example. And sometimes I have an opening line and the rest that blank page taunts me. Whoever knew paper could be so cruel! lol

    Write ugly! Loved the phrase and this post. I'm going to tell myself to just write ugly and fix it later.

    1. :) I think I need it on a post-it note on my computer!!


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