I have a confession to make – writing the nearly G-rated love scene in my novel was the hardest thing I’ve ever written and I’ll tell you why.
I’m afraid to write honestly.
I’m afraid of what my mama or my daddy will think. Or my grandparents or my friends. Or my aunts who I don’t ever talk to or my high school friends who linger around on Facebook. I’m afraid to share funny posts and thoughts because they aren’t politically correct or they have a curse word or two tucked in there. I’m a married, twenty-nine year old who still wants her grandparents to believe she has no idea what sex is. That’s right, grandpa, my husband sleeps on the couch every night. I promise.
Now cut to a reality where my fears don’t control me and for one moment I just might be able to write a sentence that oozes sensual pleasures or honest de-glorification of today’s education system (hopefully not related.)
I’m afraid of being myself in my writing and being intimate with my reader. I am just plain afraid of sharing myself completely and I know that I won’t become a truly inspirational writer until I can cut the ties that link my work, my art, my craft to what others think.
And even just tonight as I was writing my rant about Small Town Blues my husband told me “You can’t write that. You’ll make someone mad. It’s showtime all the time. You have to be careful.”
No. I don’t.
Thank you for reminding me.
If I want to be a true artist I need to allow myself that artistic freedom to share the words rolling around in my head whether they are perfectly formed in the confines of political correctness or not. Readers know when you are being authentic and I condemn myself here and now for never being fully so. I’ve worried that people will find me pretentious. I’ve doubted myself on whether or not I really have anything worth sharing. Any wisdom to impart or lessons to offer. But no longer. Call this my New Years Resolution. I’m going to learn how to write honestly.
Here are five ways to shut out your biggest censor – you:
1. Free-Write Everything – Go back to seventh grade basics here and just forget how it sounds, forget about structure and language. Forget about who might read it. Just write what you think, what you know, and what you believe. Let it all come tumbling out of your brain and rest on the paper.
2. Write for YOU – Write as if no one else will ever read it. Write as if not even God is lurking over your shoulder as you type (because chances are He has better things to do.) Imagine the treasures of honest truth that might come out of not only the world you occupy, but the inner rhythms of your heart and the pulsing of your blood. Writing is an art, a craft and although we wish to share our work with others, we should never allow their thoughts to become our own.
3. Edit, Don’t Censor – Before you take a red pen to your work, take a moment for pause. If you aren’t 100% in love with the content of what you’ve written put it off to the side rather than scrapping it completely. When the thoughts of “this might offend someone” or “they will know I’m writing about them” wiggle their way into your mind, quiet that inner dialogue by pushing forward. Chances are, if a reader is offended it’s because you’ve said something that hits home. Controversy is a useful tool so long as it doesn’t become controversy for controversy’s sake. You’re not Miley Cyrus. Rise higher.
4. Imagine a Bigger Audience – When we write, we share a piece of ourselves with the world that is personal and sometimes dark, uncouth, or racy. Forget about your family and friends, your immediate circle, and start thinking of your global audience. For every person who knows you there are billions who don’t. Publish for them.
5. Give Yourself Permission – We all have moments of things we’d like to say, but which we cower away from in fear of offending someone else. And they are worth investigation. Is this your natural filter stopping you from becoming an ass or is it your fear dictating your freedom of speech? Write down everything that comes to mind, unfiltered, and sort through it later. Just because you’ve written it doesn’t mean you have to hit “publish.” Remember, even if you are labelled an ass at least you’re authentic.
When I’m old and gray and look back on the works I’ve presented to the world I don’t want to see myself as one of the guys who added leaves to the dangly bits on the statues of Rome. Rather, I want to know I was real, true, and honest to who I was at the time. I want to be comfortable naked.