Read Rubbish to Improve your Writing

Pete Weishaupt
1 min readSep 10, 2023

What’s one thing a prospective writer can do to up their game? Read lots of terrible books. Why? Because, according to writer Alan Moore, “they can be more inspiring than good books.”

If you just take inspiration from good books, “there is always the danger of plagiarism, of doing something too much like the good book.” according to Alan.

Being exposed to other writers’ mistakes helps you refine your own style. “A genuinely helpful reaction to a piece of work that you’re reading is: ‘Jesus Christ, I could write this shit — that is immensely liberating.” Alan says.

His idea is to find somebody published who writes worse than you and analyze why they’re doing so bad. You’ll find out all the mistakes to avoid. Find the examples of clumsiness or bad thinking that ruined the story for you and rewrite those as a creative exercise.

It’s counterintuitive, but figuring out where bad writing doesn’t work is as valuable as understanding why good writing works.