Writing with courage

Do you care if people hate your stories? I‘d like to be able to say ‘no’ to that. I like to think that the more truthfully I write the more people will like my stories. But there is an inner voice that sometimes asks: if you write that, might people hate it?

I suspect the hard truth is that it’s true. The more uncompromising you are in expressing yourself, the more people will hate your writing. I used to wear quite … expressive clothes, and I was constantly getting love or hate feedback, not just from relatives or friends, but also from random passers by in cars, men and women of all ages. I had no intention of shocking or delighting anyone, I just wanted to feel I was truly being honest about myself. I’m thinking that writing is probably the same.

It helps to realise that having someone hate what you do (and tell you about it in no uncertain terms) is not the worst that can happen. The worst that can happen is when the majority of your readers gives you a ho-hum response. The problem with focusing on what might happen if people hate your story is that you begin to censor yourself –(oh golly, aunty such and such is going to hate this … my friends will think I’m crazy … no editor’s going to touch this …).

We might not even notice we’re engaging in this self-censorship. It’s a little like wearing a new dress out, only to have someone (perhaps someone we want to impress) give a negative comment on it. We might not ditch it immediately, we just find that when we’re considering what to put on next time, we find ourselves suddenly not so keen on it, and maybe eventually it gets relegated to the back of the cupboard.

How many of our true, unguarded thoughts make it to the page? Granted, some may be better kept safely in our heads, but I wonder if many of us might lift our writing to the next level simply by telling those stories that we know some people may hate? We might find out that the more courageous we are, the more readers will say, I LOVE IT!

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6 thoughts on “Writing with courage

  1. I like your writing=)

    I wrote about this same subject a while back and came to the same conclusion as you. There is a constant censorship when writing and the censorship is just a matter of how distant it is from your concsiousness. Your immediate reader, and yourself, has a close distance where your grand children are further away, but they are all there in an abstract sense.

    But as with anything we do in life, we need to have integrity. Doing what we believe in and what we believe is right. If that means that we should write things that takes courage then we need to make ourself be that courageous.

    Ironically enough, a philosophy that helped me in this regard was that of the Dice Man.

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  2. Thought I’d drop by and comment since you paid me the same courtesy. Yes, we need to be brave when we’re writing, even at the risk of offending others. There are a few lines in my novel which I actually blanch at, but I left them in because they were authentic and and definitely not boring. Who wants to be safe and boring?

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  3. I’ve heard it said that if you write something that no one will hate, then no one will love it either.

    I actually haven’t come across this problem much in my fiction. I don’t know whether that means I am disinclined to write much about really controversial things, or whether I’m unconcerned about the effect. I did have to get over this when I started writing my blog, though.

    I started out with nice, safe discussions which, with hindsight, were probably quite dull. When I got braver about being honest and taking a real side on topical issues, I found I was gaining readership and comments rather faster.

    I suppose it’s a useful lesson. The only way to avoid making enemies is to be colourless. However, some of the things that gain a person enemies will also attract friends.

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    • Yes, I get a lot of likes, but am writing a darker story for my sequel – so am expecting more ambivalent reactions. My blog is also teaching me to take a stand, and after practicing it in the blogosphere I am bringing it into my life too!

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