On Accidentally Censoring Yourself

Or

‘Yet Another Way To Get Past Your Writers’ Block!’

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Recently it has come to my attention that I’ve been unknowingly censoring myself in my writing, and this is how I found out: 

Are you sure you want to write that? I believe there’s a little voice like this in every writer’s mind, one that inevitably triggers doubt amongst other feelings. What are people going to think of you when they read this? This isn’t you. You should stop writing now. 

The above are a few of the thoughts that used to run through my mind when I was either writing or thinking of my writing. Why is this? Well recently my writing has changed a little—gone are the cheerful adventures with homogeneous characters and happy-ish endings; they’ve been replaced with cynicism, satire and racially and sexually diverse characters. And this makes me anxious.

Why?

Because it’s not what people might think I write, and it’s certainly not what my friends and family expect me to write! And this makes me afraid; I know for a fact that they will approach my writing with certain expectations and I will be delivering something completely different. I liken it to someone ordering amazing Chinese takeaways only to be delivered awful pizza or something. 

This has made me cautious to the point where in the last six months it’s been a miracle if I finish a paragraph nevertheless a story. I could barely get a sentence on the page without subconsciously second guessing it and having to rewrite it a million (this is no hyperbole!) times as a result. 

I just thought I was blocked. 

And in a way I was; I was blocked by my inability to write freely. 

My current novel, the one you see me tweeting about, is one I started on whim. The sentence I started it with came to me on the bus ride home from work and I decided to go with it. I was going to write a ‘fun’ novel, I decided, for me (and me alone). 

And voila! Writing happened.

By giving myself the opportunity to write for my eyes alone, I’ve allowed myself to ‘suck’, a piece of advice that is often thrown at, in the form of quotes from notable authors such as Hemingway (‘the first draft of anything is shit’ he said), writers writing their first drafts. And something I’ve always thought, for reasons unbeknownst to me, was a stupid idea.

Well, it’s not.  

When you erase the need for your writing to be perfect, or liked, or read, you free yourself to write what you want in the way that you want. Along the way you also discover a lot about yourself and what (and how) you want to write; I’ve found I love using profanity in my writing, I love absurdity in my stories, plots that don’t make sense and characters that are absolutely mad. 

I’ve fallen in love with writing again.

Do you censor the things you write? How do you feel about others reading your work?

Janna

The lovely photo at the top of this post is by Andreas Kretschmer.

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2 thoughts on “On Accidentally Censoring Yourself

  1. Maximilian Majewski says:

    Thanks for this insightful post. I’ve been wondering where you’ve been hiding…
    I think I know what you mean by all this. I’m facing this exact same problem, as I’m editing my novel. Ultimately, I’m not interested in knowing what people might expect of me as a writer. What I do care about is that I can stand for what I wrote, and for that to be the case I need to feel confident that I truly wrote what I wanted to write, not what I think I should write.
    Whatever the end result may be, one always needs to be able to say: ‘I wrote this, and this is all me. And I’m happy with it.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • jannakaixer says:

      Thank you for your comment! That’s exactly it – the question, ‘do I believe in what I wrote?’ is an incredibly important one and, I believe, it’s the ultimate question to be asking yourself. It’s one thing to have written something you want to write, it’s another to fully believe in it and standby it despite any potential criticism. Confidence is most definitely the key! I totally agree with you there; if you can’t say that, there’s probably something wrong with what you’ve written and, I believe, you need to evaluate.

      Thanks again! I always love to hear your thoughts!

      Janna

      Like

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