The thing about writing is that you are always taking a risk. If you aren’t taking that risk, then you’re probably not writing anything that matters.
If there is no danger involved, you are likely regurgitating a five-paragraph essay for your high school English teacher.
Doing what’s expected, what won’t raise any alarms or get anyone fired up enough to challenge you, is flimsy writing. It won’t hold up; it won’t motivate anyone to change their lives or fire off a rebuttal, let alone turn the page.
The well-worn sentiment that you can’t please everyone all the time, should be tattoed on your forehead as you write. Do not write to please anyone else. Ever. Period.
(Unless it’s your mother. Sometimes you can do that because it makes her happy, but trust me, your mom knows you better than you think she does and she can handle the unabridged version. I use my full name as a professional writer simply to please my mother. She gave me this sing-songy name that made my nails curl when I heard it as a child, but now, maybe it still makes me cringe, but I know that seeing Cara Sue on my book covers makes her happy, so it makes me happy. I don’t care so much what it says on the outside of the cover as I care about what it says inside that cover. Still, I’d prefer you call me Cara. Mom’s the only one who can use the full name in real life.)
Back to my original thought – when you write, listen to your soul not your mother or your neighbor or your inner critic. Don’t try to sound like anyone but you. In fact, don’t try to sound like anyone – just spit it out, unfiltered. You can filter on the second draft.
Don’t worry that your children (or your mother) might read your words and be shocked (trust me, if they’ve lived with you, they won’t be). Just slam those real words on the page – say what you really want to say—let it out. If you don’t it will stay caged up and the words you do write will be congealed banana oatmeal left on the counter. Nobody wants that.
If you aren’t willing to take that risk – if you aren’t willing to look stupid or silly or ridiculous or wrong, then put the pencil down.
But if you really want to write, make peace with the fact that what you write might upset someone. But know that it will likely inspire many more people than that one hair-trigger troll who has nothing better to do than slog around the internet spreading meanness.
Focus on what your heart is saying and trust me that those are the words meant for another heart. (And that heart is likely just waiting for those words.)
You have something to say. Everyone has something to say. Say it.
This post is probably just my own little pep talk, but as mentioned, I’m not worried about what you think. I just sat down and asked my heart what it had to say and this popped out.
Meanwhile, I’m whittling away on a manuscript due in two weeks that will likely upset a few people. And I’m sure I got more than a few things wrong. But I truly listened to my heart on this one—I let it out to roam free and say the things it thinks when it’s just the two of us (and the dog) walking along the hollow at dawn. It’s full of pie-in-the-sky dreams and honest evaluations that may shock. It’s also full of my own vanity and selfishness and true-this-really-happened moments.
I have something to say, so I’m going to say it. What’s the point of sugar-coating or watering down your real thoughts simply as to not offend or cause trouble? I’ll leave it to my editor to call me on anything truly dangerous; meanwhile, I’m pushing it to the edge on this one. Speaking from somewhere deeper and rawer than I have before.
Because, dang it, I’m ready for change. I’m not prepared to continue my life with the world the way it is without saying my peace.
So I’m writing from my gut and my heart and my experience, and sharing my insides in the hopes that it will disrupt, encourage, motivate, and change the world (or at least one piece of it).
It’s time to write dangerously.
What’s in your heart banging to get out? What is written on your soul just waiting for an audience?
Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.
If you’re curious about what I’m up to, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.
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Released Aug 2018 from Pegasus books:
Find out more about the book and everything you wanted to know about fostering dogs at AnotherGoodDog.org!