My sophomore year in college, I enrolled in a creative fiction writing course. I spent the majority of my time peer editing my classmates’ stories with only a blurred concept of what to focus on, recording the zany, sometimes brilliant, sometimes egotistical things my professor said, and wondering when we were going to actually learn something useful.
The class was average but there was one valuable takeaway that made the eleven weeks worth it. On the first day of class, my professor told us that in order to write well, we have to kill our mothers.
I remember gaping until he elaborated. To write well, he said, we have to silence whatever voices slip into our minds and question what we’re writing about. Maybe those voices take the form of your mother or your grandmother or your high school English teacher. Maybe they say, “Don’t use swear words—that’s tacky.” Or something like “that’s too inappropriate.” Regardless of how these voices manifest, they’re deadly to your art.
No decent writing is worth being read unless it comes from a place of total authenticity and vulnerability. Insecurity, self-doubt, and the fear of being perceived negatively are all detrimental to your potential for growth and transcendence as an artist.
My friend Dan echoed this idea when he once wrote to me and said that he doesn’t believe in censoring his inspiration. The words carry with them an invaluable lesson in remaining honest in your art.
This mantra—don’t censor your inspiration—is one I turn to often during my creative process. The notion bolsters my confidence to write what speaks to me, instead of writing what will be best-received or least controversial.
It isn’t always easy, but I try to write what inspires me and guides me toward self-reflection and learning. Sometime I’m nervous that by articulating my dreams in ink on the Internet, I may be setting myself up for failure and embarrassment if they don’t come to fruition. Or I worry that sharing my opinions may make people label me and put me in a small, two-dimensional box. Occasionally I’m concerned that by dispensing advice I might be looked at as preachy or self-absorbed.
But if I wrote constantly with the fear that people might perceive me negatively for sharing certain thoughts, I’d never have a single post finished.
If you are someone who creates, create with abandon and without restrictions. Don’t censor your inspiration to fit a cookie-cutter mold or keep the boat calm.
From one artist to another, don’t let your fear of what people will think stop you from creating. Because there may be naysayers, but there will always be at least one person in this world who will look at what you do and see only beauty.