You know that dream where you are walking naked down your highschool hallway? Yup. That dream was pretty much telling you exactly what it felt like to be a writer. All the things you’re most proud of are on display along with all the areas you would rather hide. What are people going to say? Is Mr. Ropeclimb going to flunk you in P.E. class because you have a slightly higher than average BMI? Is Mrs. Cooksalot going to pass you in Home Ec. because you have obviously eaten every single cookie you baked in her class? Is Brett, the hot soccer stud, ever going to look at you again without laughing?
This litany of scary thoughts from your dream could just as easily hound you in your day-to-day life as a writer. Will your mom and dad still claim you after your book is out there? Will your husband be able to show his face at work? Will your English teacher from uni admit to having you in her class? It’s easy to get bogged down with concerns about what people will think. Writing is a very intimate thing. You are putting parts of yourself on display. But I’m here to tell you to stop worrying about it.
Now, don’t tell me you haven’t walked around your house naked? Really? Okay. How about your bedroom? There. I knew that a few more of you could answer yes. Now let’s go for a solid 100%. How about your bathroom? Counting the shower? Okay. Now that we’re all on the same page. 😉
It’s okay to be vulnerable in your safe spaces. Right now, while you are writing, you are the furthest away from that scary hallway as you ever will be. Close your eyes. Imagine yourself sitting in your house. Alone. The shades are drawn, the doors are locked, and the dogs asleep. You are completely safe. Forget that the outside world exists. It’s just you and the blank page. Go ahead, take off a sock. (We’ll start small.) But soon you might feel okay not only bearing your metaphorical body, but also your very real soul.
Now, yes, there is a time when you will have to draw back the blinds, open the door to the knocking UPS guy, and perhaps think about going out to get groceries. The real world does exist. For both you and your book. But you know what? You get to decide just what you show them. You get to dress, disguise, edit, and fake tan (lotion folks, keep that skin healthy) the heck out of what you are about to put on display. But you’re not going to know the joy of running around the house naked unless you give yourself the freedom to do so. And you’re also not going to see what needs to be worked on without uncovering it. Or discovering a hidden beauty you didn’t even know you had. Maybe you didn’t realize just how great your ankles really are. Or how beautiful your prose is. Now go show them off. 🙂
The early writing process is not about censoring yourself. It’s not about worrying what other people are going to think. It’s not about judging every little flaw you might have. It’s about reveling in the process. Letting those crazy ideas come out, dance around, and fall joyfully exhausted onto your page. So go get naked! But check the curtains first. 🙂