Bad Writing. The Movie.

There is a documentary called BAD WRITING.

Did you know this?

Where has this film been and who’s been hiding it from me?

You can buy the film or rent it.  I bought it for $9.99 on iTunes and have watched it.  Twice.  Today.  Cheaper than 2 trips to Starbucks.


Disclaimer:  A few of my biggest writer crushes appear in this movie: Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, Nick Flynn, and Lee Gutkind.  (I am honest-to-god swooning as I type their names.)

Favorite line by the writer / filmmaker:  I felt sick, maybe I wasn’t doing as well as I thought, maybe I was still bad, maybe I would never be a good writer, maybe I was wasting my time.

Best reminder:   Anybody who doesn’t write and fail is really not trying very hard.

Most under-appreciated question:  But how do you write and not smoke cigarettes?

And now, in the spirit of this wonderful film, I offer you this week’s very worst of my bad writing:  (As a writing prompt, I was told to think about the sky and the grass.  Please hold your applause until the end.)


She often wondered, where was up and where was down?

Why one blue, the other grass and green,

Green on the low road, blue on the high,

What road was she on?

She often wondered.


He often wondered, where was he going, the same place he’d been?

Why bother with forward

When all he knew was back

Back where he’d come from

The same old road

There, nowhere, again.

He often wondered.


Who wants to share their best bad writing?


16 thoughts on “Bad Writing. The Movie.

  1. Jennifer Sanford

    I’m embarrassed to say I spelled caramel, carmel the other day on a FB post – and I meant it. It hurts me to think about it…

    1. Teri

      When I go to AWP and see Lee walking around, I want to trail him. I think if I could ever, in my lifetime, publish a story in his Creative Nonfiction magazine, I would honestly faint. On the spot.

  2. macdougalstreetbaby

    I want to see this film just so I can look into Nick Flynn’s eyes. No, really, this looks like a great flick. I’m gonna try to get hubby to use his technical prowess to download, upload, sideload or diagnaload it. Whatever is needed. A diet coke in McSorley’s Ale House? Unheard of.

    Okay, here goes:
    “I stood there, staring at the peach as if it was chiseled marble.”

    Ouch. I can’t go on. I’m sorry but it hurts too much.

    1. Teri

      I still remember when I first saw Nick Flynn — I thought, he’s so cute, what’s with the greasy messy hair. Now he is nothing but adorable. And so damned smart.

      The chiseled marble peach may earn a prize. Let’s see if we can be outdone. There may be very stiff competition.

      xoxo you.

  3. Lisa Golden

    You don’t really want to see my most recent resume cover letter because that’s some stinky writing.

    I’m going to have to see that documentary.

    And there is something good and honest about typing away with a Kool hanging off my lip.

  4. Averil Dean

    Here’s mine, also from a writing prompt:

    “They move through the architecture of my imagination like spirits, wide-shouldered and dark, closing in, covering me with their heavy weightlessness, pressing me into the earth.”

    What the hell is heavy weightlessness? This is a classic example of my preference for sound and rhythm over meaning.

    I actually put this in my book, though, as the protagonist is a writer. It gave me a place to have her berate herself.

  5. Downith

    Sounds cool. The closest I could get on Amazon UK was Adventures in Bad Writing – I don’t think it’s comparable…

    Bad writing. Bad bad writing. Sit writing. Sit. Here’s one from a short story I wrote a few years back:

    “Darling” her mum soothed, “it’s just a phase. I know they can be hard work but they’ll grow out of it.”

    “Oh Mum, “ Patty exploded. “You’ve been making excuses for me since Emily was born. First it was two under two, now it’s two under three. I can just hear you in 15 years’ time. ‘Oh Patty you’ve two under twenty’.

    “Darling” her mum chided. “

    Critique – soothed, exploded, chided, – bleccchhh! Reminds me of an agent who visited our class last year and said you should use “said” and “asked” only.

    And when I see “Patty exploded” all I can think of is spontaneous combustion.

  6. Erika Marks

    Teri, I am SO glad you reminded me about this…I’m fairly sure I heard about this a little ways back and couldn’t wait to get more info but as you know in life, that bookmark fell out and I forgot–until now!

    Okay, time for bad…In my latest WIP, I had written: “Beverly glanced down at the colorful quilt beneath her, running her fingers over the frayed seams where the blocks of garish fabrics clung to one another. How many more squares in the quilt of her lover’s life would she find here?” I think my agent threw up a little bit in her mouth when she read that one. Who could blame her?

  7. Laura

    Must watch this movie immediately!

    And conveniently, I don’t seem to have access to my writing at the moment. Really. *shifty eyes*

  8. Sherry Stanfa-Stanley

    Shh… We can’t mention that whole “bad writing” thing–even in jest–because I’m planning to get back to my ms this week after a long hiatus. I’m anticipating all gumdrops and lollipops, Just leave me and my short-term delusion alone, OK?

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