‘Yet Another Way To Get Past Your Writers’ Block!’
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.
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?
The lovely photo at the top of this post is by Andreas Kretschmer.