Many new writers are afraid of opening up and letting people know what they’re like inside. They’re nervous of allowing readers access to what they think and believe. They don’t want people to see inside of them because they’re afraid of criticism and ridicule.
How do you defeat this debilitating condition?
Because, really, that’s what it is.
In reality, nobody important is going to attack you or your writing.
Even if they do, what does it matter? Critics display much more about their own failings when they attack others.
You need to get over any insecurities about the way you express yourself and find the strength to be honest, at least in your writing.
The fact is your writing will never truly soar unless you have the courage to let it all out and ‘expose yourself’ to the world.
Seriously, you will only ever be seen as ‘original’ if you learn to be open and honest in your writing. Your own slant on the world is what makes you interesting.
It’s your individual sense of logic that makes your writing unique.
It’s too easy to fall back on conventional wisdom and have viewpoints that you already know are accepted and lauded.
But if you’re simply trotting out standard thinking on issues, you’re not adding anything of value to the world.
You need to trust your own instincts — and write from the heart, whatever the consequences, most of which are imaginary anyway.
Here are a few tips on how to get used to being truly honest in your writing:
1. Write about the worst thing that’s happened to you
Get it all out, every feeling, however low, every nuance of how it went down, who was to blame and how much you hate the people or events that caused it to happen.
2. Write about the most horrible thing you’ve ever done
It’s easy for us to write about nice things and the good in ourselves but we hide from our other, darker side. No more — write down the most nasty vicious things you’ve ever thought or done. Don’t be afraid, you don’t have to show them to anyone — but you do need to purge those demons and get them out on paper.
3. List your crimes / sins in detail
All of us are a mess of good and bad. The facade we present to the world is an amalgam of what we want others to see. We all have bad thoughts and evil moments — it’s how we deal with them that makes us who we are. Get it all out in the open.
4. Name your enemies and describe them
Really try to get inside the people you don’t like — describe their physical appearance but also try to imagine how their minds work -and what they think about — especially about you.
5. Write about your embarrassing habits
Leave no stone unturned. No matter how bad, write about the things you wouldn’t mention to a soul. Write down exactly what it is you enjoy — or hate — about those private little things you do when nobody’s looking.
6. Write about your secret prejudices
We all have them — thoughts and notions that we know are not quite politically correct or acceptable, even to ourselves sometimes. But get them down on paper, explore your logic behind them and how they shape your more conventional notions.
Why Do This?
This process of getting everything out on paper is cathartic.
You’ll feel lighter inside after you’ve done some of the above exercises.
You’ll realize that you’ve been carrying around a lot of your dark side as baggage.
And that simply letting go on paper can really help you center yourself and free your mind.
Plus, you’ll have taught yourself that ‘exposing’ yourself on paper is not quite as hard as you’d imagined.
There may even be some great pieces of writing there, important pieces that you can later rework.
But most of all, you’ll have gotten used to being objective about your thoughts and emotions.
This new perspective will enable you to approach your writing with renewed energy and conviction.
And a determination to be more honest and forthright.
To become a better writer.
Rob Parnell’s Writing Academy