sinewaveHere’s a question: when you write, do you write freely and without inhibition?

Be honest. Your impulse might be to say you do. But think about it. Think about your writing. Think about the way characters react. Think about how scenes unfold. Are they uninhibited? Are you uninhibited in writing them?

Astonishingly, many writers aren’t.

And they aren’t for a very simple reason.

What would people think?

Admit it: that’s an alert in your head.

What would your partner, you family, your friends, the general public, etc., think about the scene you wrote where the killer garrottes his victim, bathes in the gore, and then plays a spot of mini golf with the kids? Or the scene where the sweet, modest loving couple engage in bondage behind closed doors? Or when the tough, macho husband breaks down, and cries on the floor of the kitchen? Would your partner, your family, your friends, think you a creep? Or sick? Or gushy? Better to temper it all.


This isn’t about being shocking. Anybody can throw in a scene to shock, and sometimes authors do, because they feel that’ll captivate. It might, but not in the right way. Often, a reader will frown and even if they don’t recognise the scene as gratuitous, they’ll know there’s something not quite right.

Be true to what’s required in your writing. If that means you need to write an emotional scene which is going to have people thinking you’re just some big softy, write it. If you need to write a violent scene which is going to make people think you’re a sicko, write it. Whatever the scene, write it as it needs to be, devoid of boundaries, unfiltered, and free of judgement.

This applies to any form of writing. You could be a poet, you could be a novelist, you could be writing your biography.

You’ll know when you’ve hit a scene where you’re holding back. You’ll feel that tentativeness about the writing. It might even become diplomatic, couching the expression so that it won’t be confrontational, nor an indictment on you as a person. Other times, you’ll be racing through scenes and thinking you’ve nailed them, but because you’ve been doing this so long you’ve just learned to ignore your instincts. Have you been as real as possible? Have you been truthful with yourself and the narrative?

If you’re not going to be honest with your writing, be honest with yourself.

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