We’re living in a strange world. Orwell’s worst fears of cameras on street corners and government intrusion into our bedrooms and if you’re female, your uterus. It’s something writers are actually quite familiar with. Writers have faced it since they first put chisel to stone to tell their stories. Not from any one source either. We face the self-critic perched on our shoulder every time we sit down to write. And when we place our work out there – as we must – we face the often harsh criticism of others.
I’m guilty of that inner censor. For one thing, I write for young adults. I am cognizant as an educator of the limitations others will place on my audience if my content strays outside of an acceptable path. In spite of the fact, that for teens to relate, writers truly have to “go there”. I hear my former librarian’s consternation over being caught between what her students wanted to read and what their parents wanted to keep from them. We aren’t circus performers and we know that one wrong step and we’ll go splat. There is no safety net.
In grad school, Pope Brock often spoke of this tendency of writers to cave to the pressure of the inner critic. Sometimes it’s the voice of insecurity. Other times it’s the voice of a harsh public. Sometimes they are correcting us(accurately or not), other times they are merely telling us no one is interested, and we should just shut up. When we draft, we too often listen to the voice of that public. If I use this word, will it offend the reader? In order to write from a place of truth, we have to fight all forms of censorship. Whether it’s the voice in our head or our perceptions of the reading public.
How do you shut out the voice of censorship when you write?