All great writers doubt their writing. Comforting advice considering I think my words are an insult to the alphabet at least once a week. Self-doubt is the eternal plague of the writing process. It makes sense if you think about it, writing is a lot like Jenga, the words are the blocks that make up the structure, every word matters and when you edit, you remove a block and each block effects the foundation. Take out the wrong block in the whole thing collapses. Relax, it’s just a game. Just kidding, words are life and writers live off coffee, we can’t relax. If you are a writer who remains unaffected you’re probably not a very good one. The doubt pushes us to be better than we ever thought we could be, it can also hinder and deter us from much needed consistency. Now that I’m writing my memoir and it’s been years since I’ve written a book I’ve come up with a strategy. A strategy that is going to get me to the end of my second book’s first draft. A strategy that explains why there is a poop emoji pillow sitting on my writing desk. I call it The Good Sh*t Standard or Bonne Merde since everything sounds classier en français.
All good writers doubt their writing.– great writers
The Good Sh*t Standard is as follows; when you are a writer, you should write every day and if you do, every word you write may not be great but that’s okay, that’s what Bonne Merde is for. Write, re-write and write some more until you read what you’ve written and don’t consider it total crap. A turd is a turd and they should all be flushed but The Good Sh*t Standard is designed so you write until you have a turd that can be polished. Get all the shit out until it’s no longer shitty shit that wreaks of shit, but instead, the words are now something that’s not so putrid. Don’t be afraid to get dirty. Write the shit out of that shit until it actually becomes some really good shit.
I came up with Bonne Merde out of experience with my very own shit. I was outlining of my memoir, which is a climb in and of itself, but on this day I was fortunate enough to reach an acme of inspiration. I flipped through pages of character descriptions, most of which were a total turn off however, I did have a few turds-I mean words-worth refining. I went back and forth through my binder of The Snowflake Method. I looked over what I had highlighted, circled, boxed and/or starred in regards to myself and the rest of the cast that made up the past few years of my life. It was in a particular description of one of the main characters that I felt a pulse through the paper. There was life in the ink I had scribbled to describe memories of someone I once knew. I didn’t have to tweak my words, what I read was sufficient and I felt satisfied. It was then that I said aloud; “that’s some good shit” to know one but myself in my empty apartment because writers talk even when no one is listening. In that moment, the moment I unearthed the good shit that had been buried beneath the manure of redundancies I found what I needed, what all scribes firmly fixated on their muse and hopelessly in love with their craft need. The reassurance that not each and every word I write sucks. The reassurance that the very first draft is as bad as the book will ever be. The reassurance that even My Friend Leonard, Kite Runner and The Great Gatsby were once piles of poop on paper waiting to be purified.
The first draft of anything is shit. – Ernest Hemingway
Bonne Merde is the much needed break all of us imaginative, unhinged, insanity enjoying writers deserve. Relax, breathe, believe and write some good shit. Even if what you write is terrible, no worries. Bonne Merde means the bar is set low. Too low for limbo. Hitting it can be accomplished by barely even trying. Here’s some tips on how to do it. Let me be clear, Bonne Merde is where you start, it is not where you finish. Shoot for The Good Sh*t Standard so you don’t freeze, procrastinate or worst of all quit. Take it easy, stay determined and know you’ll get there. I wrote through a lot of shit just to write this shit that you’re reading now, two days worth of shit to be exact. The difference between successful writers and struggling ones is not talent, it’s perseverance. Book writing is like working out or getting a tattoo, the process is painful, it is a sacrifice that costs your time, money and energy, but grand results will come and in the end it will all be worth it. Just remember:
After a brief Google search I discovered I’m not the only one who agrees with this method of madness. I am however, the only one who has given the system a name. As far as I know The Good Sh*t Standard is an original title of my own creation. You read it here first. In the future I’m sure I will elaborate upon the title I’ve coined but for now, here’s some additional perspectives for those who are getting to the good shit. If doubt remains and uncomfortability lingers in the air leaving you, the deliciously complicated, dear writer thinking the only feasible action to be done is the awkward Peter Griffin back out, here is your expedient peptalk, you are welcome.
There can be many tortured moments in the life of someone who spends her days writing books. The antidote to those moments, is the moment, the finished book finally arrives. – Carrie Bradshaw