Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Be Bad - Five challenges for writing freedom

I was reading "Creativity vs. Quants," and I came across this quote from Oscar Wilde:

A writer is someone who has taught his mind to misbehave. 

Not bad. It called to mind an exercise in "Make Me Worry You're not Okay" -- Write about an embarrassing moment. I'm not sure this is something that needs to be done for disclosure in a class, but it can be a good way to loosen things up. Many people who have wonderful perspectives, excellent instincts, and lyrical writing close up when it comes to sensitive areas. They worry if their parents or kids will read what they have to say and will be offended. They have unpopular opinions they suppress. They want to be considered "nice."

I sympathize. Who wants to be the bad guy? Who wants to become a target for critics and defenders of the status quo? And yet, much of what we want to keep hidden is the interesting, revealing stuff. So, here's my challenge - write one of these before your next session on your Work In Progress (WIP), and see if it loosens you up:

  1. Write about your most embarrassing moment.
  2. Write about a politically incorrect opinion you hold and wouldn't share with your peers (or take the opposite of an opinion you hold and write compellingly from that perspective).
  3. Write a sex scene (not a love scene). If this doesn't make you uncomfortable twist it in a way the makes you squirm.
  4. Write a scene where the hero in your WIP acts out his or her most antisocial wish.
  5. Write about a spiritual insight you have that would make your friends want to run screaming from the room.
Note: You do not have to share this writing with anyone, and one page is fine. Feel free to erase it as soon as you're finished.

You may find yourself free to write something less shocking in your manuscript. I hope you do. Or you may just feel a sense of relief in going back to your own story where you don't have to be disturbing. Or you may like what you wrote (on some level) and hold onto it for another day when you can create a toned down version or, perhaps, dare to share.

So here's your writing challenge for the day: Be bad.

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