Put Yourself in Danger.

You were taught to look both ways before you cross the street, to check the temperature before touching the oven. Since pre-school, you’ve heard the “Safety First” mantra repeated ad nauseum. But the writing life presents a different set of dangers. Those are the ones you want to embrace. Don’t test the water’s depth first. Just dive in!

Here are a few prompts to try:

1. What are you hiding? Write it down. Expound.

Chances are, if you’re afraid to talk about something in your writing, it’s for an important reason. But that reason, that fear, that safety mechanism might be blocking you from tapping a reservoir of new inspiration. Uncover your secrets and shame. Exhume them. Shed a little light on the darkness and I’ll bet your writing will come alive.

2. Don’t be polite. Get mean!

Polite writing is boring writing. Don’t burry your judgement or envy. Don’t shy away from those wicked, nasty, spiteful, vindictive thoughts and deeds. Sure, you might be scared to put them into words, but do it anyway. You can always edit later. No one has to read it. For now, let this writing be for-YOUR-eyes-only.

3. Be shallow. Be annoying.

Not everything has to be De Profundis. Risk seeming shallow, petty, or cloying. You may discover your witty or subversive side, or stumble upon some interesting way to manipulate tone. Whatever happens, try to have fun with this particular experiment.

There are always many ways of looking at a blackbird. Don’t just stick to the safe ones. If you’re afraid of what might happen when you share what you have risked, remember that readers may recognize the darkness in your writing as their own. Sure, they might judge you for it, but they’re probably just judging themselves. They’ll thank you later.

-Chris R. at CD Baby


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