When your writing isn’t “safe”

Sometimes, when you’re writing, you just want to feel safe. You want to express your inmost thoughts and feelings and know that no one will judge you for them. You want to talk about the way the cherry blossoms make you feel, or the way the snow falls, and you don’t care about being original, you just want to write because you feel happy. Or sad. Or whatever.

And that’s fine. But sometimes your writing isn’t safe. Sometimes when you write, it becomes much darker than you were expecting. Your characters may express thoughts that frighten you because you feel that way too, you’ve just never admitted it. The “you” that questions things, the “you” that’s always been slightly rebellious and snarky, the “you” that is always under the surface, just waiting to get out–that person is in your writing, and the fact that you’ve written this person into being makes you the tiniest bit scared.

Your subconscious mind is up all night figuring out what it is that your conscious mind is avoiding, and when your creative self hooks into the subconscious, here come surprises. ~Vinita Hampton Wright

What do you do? How will people react when they see this? Those are good questions, Sometimes you just need to embrace the weird. Write dangerously! Stretch yourself. Question things. Sometimes we need to write on the edge to keep ourselves from living there.

Vinita Hampton Wright warns that when we embrace creativity, we may find that we frighten other people at times with our honesty and willingness to question. We may be rejected. We may be misunderstood. These aren’t reasons to stop writing, but we need to be prepared to face the consequences of our creativity. We can’t control the way that other people respond to our work, even though writing would be a much “safer” process if we could.

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“The truth is bright, sometimes so bright that it hurts your eyes,” Wright notes. If we fail to embrace this truth and only write what feels “safe” to us, it’s like putting a candle in a cupboard and expecting it to brighten the room. If we are willing to take risks with our writing, we may get burnt, but our light will shine much further.





5 thoughts on “When your writing isn’t “safe”

  1. Sometimes I wonder if me being “too busy” is really just an excuse I use to not have to encounter those consequences with my writing. And sometimes it is more than being your own worse critic–it’s almost like you expect the worst in people? Maybe not, but I can definitely relate to this post! I’m putting on my big girl pants and trying to finish a little something something that is FEELINGS and hope that I am not judged too harshly for them…

    I am writing dangerously 🙂

    • Writers do have a tendency to expect the worst from an audience (at least I do). It’s hard to know how to much your work out there, I think, because you can’t be all, “Look at what I just wrote! It’s AH-MAZE-ING. Read it and it will make your life better!” but at the same time you can’t be like, “I wrote a thing and it’s awful but maybe you’d like to read it anyway?” Finding the balance is hard! Good luck with your dangerous FEELINGS thing 🙂

  2. Interesting topic. Reminds me of this post by another blogger a couple of days ago.

    Trust me, if my writing was an adequate representation of my psyche I would’ve been shipped off to the looney bin a long time ago. Luckily, we writers tend to do this thing called sensationalizing and, um, blowing things out of the water…?

    • I’m pretty sure that I’ve written some things that made my friends question the wisdom of their friendships with me. One instance that I remember involved this weird depressing little poem that may have gone something like this: “I longingly stare at your sexy wrist / Love isn’t worth it.” (Don’t judge me haha). Sometimes I don’t know where this stuff comes from.

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