To go from being a competent writer to being a great writer, I think you have to risk being — or risk being seen as — a bad writer. Competence is deadly because it prevents the writer risking the humiliation that they will need to risk before they pass beyond competence. To write competently is to do a few magic tricks for friends and family; to write well is to run away to join the circus. Your friends and family will love your tricks, because they love you. But try busking those tricks on the street. Try busking them alongside a magician who has been doing it for 10 years, earning their living. When they are watching a magician, people don’t want to say, “Well done.” They want to say, “Wow.”

Toby Litt
Toby Litt (b. 1968) English writer and academic
“What makes bad writing bad?” The Guardian (20 May 2016)

Added on 13-Aug-21 | Last updated 13-Aug-21
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