We all know we should dance like nobody's watching and sing like nobody's listening, and that's all rather delightful isn't it. But what you may not know is that you should write with exactly the same ethos, and I'm going to tell you why.
You see, I've been writing for over 15 years and I've been published all over the place. But nothing is igniting terror in me quite so much as writing my first novel. As we so graciously say in my native England, I'm bricking it. This has massively impacted my creative flow and I've found myself censoring my words. It goes a little something like this: "Oh gosh no, I can't write that! What will so-and-so think? Maybe I should write it like this instead. Yeah, that's better. Otherwise I might offend that special interest group."
You know what I was left with? Bland, vanilla words that made my eyes glaze over as I proof read it.
Want to know a little secret? My novel focuses on sex, violence and money so it's near impossible for me to publish it without offending someone. So I thought, f*ck it. I'm going to write whatever the hell I want, and once it's out into the world, I let go of the outcome. Criticism, praise, or worse, crickets -- I'll take it all on the chin. As long as I know I've written what I wanted to, that in my mind equals literary success.
You may not be a novelist. And that's okay. But perhaps you blog for your business or do a little creative writing on the side and you find yourself censoring your words. Here's why you should take a leaf from my "Write whatever the eff you want" book.
Before we jump in, one caveat -- this doesn't mean edit like nobody's reading. If something is going to land you in a sh*t load of trouble, then you have the choice to be smart and edit it out. But it's like brainstorming -- you throw everything onto the page, and then when you've finished the creative process, you look at your ideas with a critical eye and intelligently select the ones that work. Have you ever sat through a brainstorming meeting at work where every idea is shot down the moment it left your lips? That ain't brainstorming. It's buzz killing. Got it? Read on.
You will write from the heart and fear disappears
When you write as if nobody is reading, your fear completely disappears. Gone are the worries of what people may say or think, and in its place you will see words pouring directly from your heart onto the page. Now, there are numerous theories about this. Some say you know who you are by what you write. Others hypothesize that writing is simply escapism and the content does not reflect the author. It's art, they say. Staying with this theory for a moment, how many times have you read something and thought, "Wow, that's brilliant and dark. That author must be so messed up."
I don't know about you, but this thought has never crossed my mind. If anything, the darker the writing, the more impressed I am with the author, especially when they appear to be a well-adjusted, healthy homosapien in real life. It's like acting -- some of the darkest onscreen portrayals are crafted by the sweetest, kindest people in the business. I'm talking about you, Robin Lord Taylor. In these instances, I'm impressed to learn the actor is gifted enough to transport themselves to that dark place and transform into something so grotesque that it bears no resemblance to their real life psyche. Why should writing be any different?
It may be the best work you've ever created
A couple weeks back I indulged myself in writing a piece of none-novel-related fiction, just for fun, with the intention that it would never see the light of day. Perhaps it was fan fiction and it may or may not have been scandalous. I cannot confirm nor deny the allegations. The point is, I hammered out around 1,500 words and I was giddy with excitement as I did so. I damn well enjoyed myself! And then I read it back.
I can't remember the last time I wrote something that flowed quite so well or had the same level of clever wordplay and passionate characters. If I may say so myself, it was gorgeous. I figured there was something freeing about writing as if nobody was reading it. Because nothing kills your creative buzz quite like, "But what will Jessica from hot yoga think of me?"
It doesn't matter. Write what you want. Write your truth. Write your fiction.
Write whatever the hell sets your heart on fire.
I promise you it will be the best written work you've ever created.
We've all heard the whole "Dance like nobody's watching" thing.
Write like nobody's reading.
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