Writing is both an art and a science. Too often, when my wife tells people she is an artist, the question is asked, “Are you any good?” That is not to say that the question is never appropriate. Rather, it is to say that too many people have the wrong mindset about art. The same is true for writing. Everyone wants to know if you are good at it. Does it matter if one is good? Yes it does. Nobody wants to read bad writing. That being said, there are some principles that need to be held in tension when it comes to writing.
First, writing is both an art and a science. It takes some sense to know when to break the rules. It used to bother me greatly that my English teachers would never let me start any of my sentences with the word “but.” Of course, they were grammatically correct. That being said, as I have grown in my writing, I have utilized but to start some sentences. This is because writing is not merely a science. I do not write for robots. I write for people and for myself. Just as an artist may decide to abandon the rules of color theory from time to time, a good writer will be able to make writing that is bad (grammatically) and good.
Second, one should not always write to be good. Imagine if you told people you enjoyed going out to eat. What would you think if they asked you, “Are you any good?” You would be flustered. You may even laugh at the idea. Why? Because you do not go out to eat to be good. You go because you enjoy it. You go out to eat because it fills your belly, gives you clarity, and can be generally good for the soul. You go to spend time with the misses and escape the rum drum of life. You do not have to be good at going out to eat to be one who goes out to eat. The same is true for art and writing. It is okay to do these things simply because you enjoy them. There can be so much grace and beauty in the ugliest paint stroke.
I am not here saying that you should write something hateful and desecrate some poor person’s life. That is both an evil thing to do to someone and an evil thing to do to writing. I am saying, however, that I have seen little children make art that has caused so much joy for them and all who have seen it, and it never once had to be good.