Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Fear on Your Page

Saw this blog post from Think Traffic, nodded in agreement, and then said "yes." Then as it really sank in, I raised my voice, and hollered "Yeah, hell yeah!" The title? "How to Write Epic Shit, Lesson #1: Fear Makes You Tame and Ordinary"

First, if the word "shit" upset you, lighten up. It's there to make a point.

You've heard it from other writers, and, admit it, you've said it yourself. "Oh, I couldn't write that. What would ---fill in blank--- think?" Then your internal editor steps over its bounds and tempers your writing. That editor raises visions of an angry mother, grandmother, father, sister, neighbor, co-worker, boss, religious sect, political group, spouse, etc. etc. etc. If you stop and think about it, you allow yourself to be censored way more than you let yourself go.

Imagine all that energy and creative spirit that you're hiding from the world.

Heck, I have rules. No discussion of my preference for politics or religion in my FundsforWriters material. I'm not saying to find something controversial out of spite, in order to stir the crap. I'm saying write what beats in your chest, even if you know it won't make someone happy.

It's the daring, colorful and utterly truthful who attract readers.

Corbett Barr, the founder of Think Traffic blog, tauts this lesson primarily for bloggers, since that's his expertise - creating blogs that sell. But I profess it works for other writing as well. He suggests you let fear guide you by asking yourself questions such as:

1. What have you held back from your readers for fear they'd label you an imposter?
2. What have you strongly disagreed with online but feared writing about your side?
3. What are you keeping from one online group that another one knows about you and you're afraid to share?
4. What are you afraid your mother, spouse or family would read?
5. What have you written about trying to fit in to a group, when you didn't feel that way?

No, this isn't permission to be rude. But sometimes we avoid the uncomfortable. Maybe it's time to write uncomfortable. Quit writing what's popular on other blogs, in other novels, on other websites.

Barr calls it "writing epic shit." I call it writing the truth, with your heart in it.


Laura M. Campbell said...

You seem to know just when I need the kick in the pants. I struggle with writing where my heart is and toning it down to avoid alienation. I'm a mess and trying to jump over this hurdle. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed, Hope. Couldn't agree more, even to the point that I blogged to the same vein in my post yesterday.

I totally enjoy your blog and I share it every now and then with writer friends.

But I'm missing the chickens' stories out on F/B. I know you are awfully busy with book edits.

And I love your new grandpuppy pictures! Labs rule!!

Rebecca G.

Mary Ingmire said...

Thanks for this post, Hope. I often struggle with what will people think of me if I put a character in a particular situation - especially when it goes against my personal values. I'm reminded of the public controversy that occurred when Murphy Brown became pregnant. Someone asked, "Do they know she's not real?"

Julie Burroughs said...

Powerful message, Hope. I certainly agree that it is about writing truth. The truth shall set you free (John 8:32, free to be who you are and free to write the words from your heart.

The question, "What are you keeping from one online group that another one knows about you and you're afraid to share?" resonates with me, because I once wrote a devotional on that very subject. The truth of each of our hearts is the collision of all our roles, all the facets of our daily living. If someone wants me to cut out a part of who I am, then they obviously do not really want to know me.

Hope Clark said...

Excellent, J. Burroughs. I hadn't thought of it that way - cutting out a part of you.

Yvonne Mokihana Calizar said...

I enjoyed this read, my guts know it even better than my head.

Your newsletters have coaxed me on, toward writing from a different frame. This post refines that and reminds me not to leave any part of me off the page, because more often than not it would be my heart that gets left behind.

I could relate to how I comment on one blog with thoughts that wouldn't be shared on another. Parallel universes. I agree with J. Burroughs, cutting out a part of you is serious business and the healing such a difficult road.

Thanks a lot!