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!


  1. I remember your story and I'm not sure it's prudent to let your mother read it but I agree with you, I would not let my parents read what I write either. I have a scene in one of my books of a rape. Not sure I feel comfortable with any of my family reading that.


  2. But even if I don't try to make them read it, I think a writer can't edit their writing for others. Do I run out and share? But I'm not going to edit myself either. But not editing isn't easy.

    That little voice is loud.

  3. I think that's good advice. Writers that are amateur are self conscience about our minds ideas. that limit us and we end up frustrated when we haven't gotten out what we really want to say. Some of the things that King writes for example are very disturbing and hard-to-swallow, on the other hand, he has millions of fans.

  4. You are so right! Writing can make you feel very naked and very vulnerable. It is good to let rip! (And I'm not talking about farting but that helps too - sometimes) :)

    Your posts keep getting better and better. They say a life lived in fear is a life half lived to we have to keep pushing and pushing ourselves to face our fears and push the boundaries.

    It's absolutely freezing over here in the UK - in the middle of a 'big freeze' and so I'm writing with my clothes on - lots of them. But I shall take your very good advice regarding writing.

  5. Nudity is in the, not in the skin.


    I find myself editing my writing because of what someone MIGHT say. I try not to give into that.

  6. Nice post. I think that's absolutely true. If you can only write "clothed" you may never reach what you're trying to say.

  7. Morning - new featured post that needs your support :) Have a good day, clothed or unclothed :) x