Monday, January 4, 2010
How to Write Naked
Put your pants back on, it’s not that kind of naked.
Writing naked is to write without fear.
When you’re writing, do you hear a little voice in your head that says things like, “What if your mother read that?” or “What would the people at work think?”? Most writers have those annoying little voices, mine sounds like a constipated grandmother. You can’t write good prose if you write in fear.
So how do you teach yourself to let go of all that anxiety?
I suggest sitting down and writing about the most embarrassing, disgusting, or scariest thing you can think of. Go ahead. Start with one sentence. Something you would never let yourself say out loud because it’s not the polite thing to do.
My first sentence, “I hate my mother.”
Do you have that queasy feeling in your stomach? That’s a good thing. It means you tapped into a part of your thoughts that makes you uncomfortable. If you edit what you write before it even hits the page, your characters will be stunted in the long run.
If you can’t get past that fear that someone will judge you for it then tell yourself you can tear up the paper the moment you’re done.
Are you writing?
If you don’t have any idea of what to write, I suggest a very explicit sex scene. If you’ve never written one before, you’re hand will shake, you’ll sweat. You might even wheeze a bit but it’ll be good practice for you.
For most people, writing an explicit sex scene is as naked as you can get on the page. Just don’t write the actions, write the parts that frighten you. Do an S&M scene, write a raunchy scene. Be bold. Put your Grandmother in a leather thong and give her a feather whip.
Writing about sex doesn’t scare me much. However, I find emotional nakedness to be frightening. I’d much rather write about boobs and butt than write a character that kills dogs or drowns newborns. I find that kind of character repulsive. But if I can’t get beyond that instantaneous fear, I hurt my writing.
Don’t let your internal editor stifle what you want to write. Perhaps you aren’t interested in writing about sex. Fine by me.
What scares you?
Does your character secretly find her newborn annoying? Does he have sexual fantasies about the family priest? Does she want to drown her mother in a soup tureen?
Remember, nothing you ever write has to be read by another person. Write it exactly the way you want, be mean, be sexy, be nasty. Tell people you want to pee on kittens. No one ever has to know.
Always write as if no one will ever read it.
Then put a lock on the file for a couple of weeks then take it out and read it again. Is it good? Do you feel that you were being absolutely honest on the page?
If you were a stranger, would this piece of work speak to you?
If the answer is yes, you’ve won the battle. You’re on your way to becoming the kind of writer others only dream of being.
You may never publish this writing but you’ll know you can. You’ll know the next time that you need to write your evil, disgusting, strange characters, you’ll be able to do it.
You’ll be able to be bold and write without fear. Now you can take off your pants…just kidding.
Remember to Write Naked!