You Don’t have To Be Brilliant From The Beginning

I found this in my Free Little Library the other day and it prompted a powerful lesson that I thought I’d share here as advice for writers. If you’re struggling to write and wondering if you’re any good, Snoopy has a lesson for you.

But first, when I saw this book, I was flabbergasted. How could someone give away a Peanuts book, especially one that looked like it was from the early years? Surely it would be a classic collection!

With fond memories of being a kid, chuckling along to a paperback full of Snoopy and Charlie Brown’s adventures, I snatched this book out of the library and settled down to have some fun.

Sure the artwork was unpolished and Snoopy barely looked like Snoopy, but the stories were…also kind of lame.

One page consists of Snoopy rolling something to the kids’ feet, them all looking at it, and the line “water bowl”.

Snoopy is kind of angry.

Charlie Brown’s a bit of a jerk.


Start, Create, Fail, Improve

Still, some of the cartoons in this 1955 collection were sweet or made me smile.

And, as we all know, The Peanuts gang hit a golden age that secured its place in pop culture, somewhere in the second decade of Charles Schultz’s daily practice of drawing, inking, lettering and publishing the stories.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Schultz was able to make art for 10 years before his project became really good. Am I’m sure there were some clunkers after 1960, too.

But he kept producing cartoons until the year he died: 2000.

Wait For It

Your writing doesn’t have to be brilliant right now, or all the time.

In fact, you must be willing to be good, bad or mediocre on any given day.

You can wait for the quality to arrive, but you must create a certain quantity of work to improve your chances that it will.

You can’t wait to write. You can wait for it to get good.

And, if you keep writing, it will.

I hear it over and over again from people who write a StoryADay in May or who keep showing up for their writing in the Superstars group, week after week, month after month: they figure out what works; they find their voice; they begin to write well.

There’s a reason I sign all my emails with “Keep writing”.

Be urgent about the quantity and patient about the quality.

But please…Keep writing,


7 thoughts on “You Don’t have To Be Brilliant From The Beginning”

  1. Wow! This is so helpful. My husband keeps asking why I want to write. I find I get nervous and scared instead of admitting I just love the process. Does a person want to be published? What does the writing do in my life? Those are my next question.

    Thank you Juli for sharing such a wonderful insight. You have helped me grow in so many ways.

    1. I’m so glad it was helpful.

      It’s hard for husbands, I find. They want us to be happy but that doesn’t always look like what they think it should look like. We have to figure out what we want and then advocate for ourselves. (The good guys tend to be our best cheerleaders once we know what we want!)

  2. I think I may have to track down a Snoopy postcard to stick above my desk to remind me of this (and because I love Snoopy).

    1. It’s easy to say, but harder to internalize. Maybe put it on a sticky note stuck to the wall next to where you write 😉

  3. OMG I absolutely love this advice. My writing doesn’t have to be perfect now or ever but it will get better the more I write. What I will take away from this piece is that I can’t wait to write but I can wait for it to be better.

    This translates into it doesn’t have to be a certain length (as in a blog post doesn’t have to always be 1500 words when 500 will do; or my book doesn’t have to be a modern-day War and Peace. It just has to be written and it can be improved upon as my writing gets better.

    Thank you for sharing.

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