Poorly Written Poems

Perfect is the enemy of the good
— Voltaire

I grant myself permission to produce poorly written poems on the premise that the “crap” I write may become fertilizer for a future harvest. It can be a string of unrelated lines, or something foolish and flippant, or a mix of metaphors that don't match one another, or something sappy and sophomoric that no poet of any note would dare share with the world.

I even grant myself permission to break the limit of five poorly written ones in order to produce a decent one, a code I have often shared when describing the cultivation of good work. In fact, I drop the code of decency altogether and forfeit the aim for excellence. Not only do I grant permission, but I set the intention: I plan to write poorly. Stretch my craft with crazy crafting.

Mastery emerges from mediocrity. All that is needed is effort and feedback, the twin forces of all life learning. Perform the act, notice the result, pick what works, and drop or adjust what doesn’t. Then simply rinse and repeat. Many wiser than I have advocated the virtue of using the forces that seem to oppose you and the advantages of finding a way through rather than fighting against a trend. Apply this idea to your inner world and you abandon struggle in service of a spirit of inquiry.

There is no such thing as a “writer’s block,” which is merely a kind of stasis, a dynamic process that requires mutual cooperation between desire and fear in order to create the holding pattern. When I give permission to produce anything, when I stop holding myself to a standard at every sitting, when I forfeit the distant goal in favor of the moment’s inclination, then words will come, ideas will flow, and something new will emerge. What comes may go straight to the can or may surprise and delight!

Perfect diamonds are extremely rare, most are found flawed. But, as Confucius once said, a flawed diamond is better than a perfect stone. Well, to find even the flawed diamond often requires sifting through a few perfect stones and through many flawed stones and mostly mediocre stones as well. I would be happy if only my poems were each perfect stones and ecstatic if each werediamonds. But such an expectation is death to the creative process. So, I grant permission to write poorly. I allow myself to produce enough colorless stones that a pattern emerges. And if I look closely, there may just be diamonds, however flawed, hidden in the heap.


Where, in your life, do you let perfection
be the enemy of the good?

How can you adjust your expectations
in order to allow greater productivity?

© NIck LeForce
All Rights Reserved

Please share your thoughts and comments below.