When you sit down to write, do you find yourself self-censoring, second-guessing, or worrying about how a fictional group of people might view your work? Do these thoughts cause you anxiety, which creates a sense of creative paralysis that prevents you from writing, and instead, you run to your favorite streaming service to binge something safe and comforting?
It’s time to end this madness in 2023.
Let’s talk about it.
A Rough Draft is Your Playground
The initial draft of your work is for you and you alone. It’s your playground to develop and hone ideas for your story, which means this is a no-fear zone. It also means that you shouldn’t censor yourself, edit things you feel might offend a future reader, or fear what your third-grade teacher might think of you if they read something objectionable in your book.
This draft is your time to let it all out. Every crazy idea, line of dialogue, and over-the-top moment should be allowed to live in this space. You’re the only person who will see these things and the only person who knows what will work and not work once you begin editing and working on the next draft.
Have fun with it without the fear of scrutiny, criticism, or being committed.
Don’t Write to Appease Others
I’ve noticed this trend in Hollywood, where studios attempt to pander or target a specific demographic based on what people on social media demand they include in a film or TV show. The result is a product that isn’t great because they have sacrificed creativity to appease a group of anonymous people.
You can’t rely on social media to guide how you write, what you write, or how you might be perceived by faceless Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. If you are working on a story that may have content that could offend others, then that’s the way it will be.
Attempting to make 8 billion people happy with your work is delusional. It will only result in your writing becoming neutered and mediocre. Don’t allow that to happen. You have a story you want to tell; tell it your way.
Don’t Just Silence Your Inner Critic, Bury It!
Your rough/first draft is your time to play, and really enjoy the creative process. This is not the place to worry, overthink, or cast doubt about your material. That irritating voice inside our heads that wants to destroy our creative mojo must be stopped at all costs.
Fight it. Run from it. Push through and keep writing when it creeps into your thoughts. You can beat the inner critic by not letting it defeat you are you pound away at the keys or write your story down on paper. Your inner critic is your toughest foe when it comes to your creativity. Greater than any tweet, review, or feedback.
If you can fight against it and win, you can write more confidently. Those projects your inner critic has been preventing you from starting or completing will finally get out on the page. In turn, this will allow you to increase your productivity and output.
Don’t be your own worst enemy in the battle for creative autonomy. Fight back and make that inner critic wish they had never reared their ugly head!
Writing should be fun, and creating should be fun. We should feel zero restraint when delving into a rough story draft and feel free to go as outrageous as we feel. This also means being free to experiment with new ideas that may not make it past this stage but are worth exploring.
We shouldn’t allow ourselves to fall prey to what social media dictates: good and bad content. We should always follow our instincts about what works best for us and our story. You can’t please everyone.
Finally, do everything you can to fight and destroy your inner critic. It’s time for it to lose its control over you as a creative person.
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next time!