Don’t Be So Careful

There’s such a thing as being too careful. I think that applies to most things, but specifically in how it relates to writing, it can really cut down on what you have to say if you’re always worried about covering every angle of a topic, or trying to account for all the different criticisms (or possible misunderstandings) that could come up. I know I worry about that a lot, but common sense tells  me it’s better to just say what’s on my mind and let things play out. There’s always the comments section if you want to justify or explain yourself to anyone leaving comments of their own on your writings, and that’s assuming you feel the need to do either of those.

It seems like there are a lot of ways to self censor and I’ve been exploring a few of them lately, trying to get a handle on what they are when I’m doing it to myself, and putting into words the way I deal with them… So far it’s not that different from the kind of approach to life I’ve touted since I started this blog, to just do something, to stop thinking so much, to take doubt for a ride and show it how full of shit it is. I don’t think that opinion or my belief in the effectiveness of that approach is going to change anytime soon. It works. It’s why I’m writing this post, and why I’m not going to wait to publish it after I’m done writing. I can always write more in another post or even edit this one.

Chances are I’ll do the same with my next post. Sometimes I get tripped up, but right now isn’t one of them. There’s a saying, a quote, that I seem to run into all the time… “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” I don’t think I know anything about the guy who said or wrote that (Scott Adams), but it’s something I tend to agree with. It might not be on your blog (like it kind of is for me), but you need somewhere that you can just make a mess with sloppy, reckless outpourings. Whatever you do, painting, writing, or hell, even if you play sports… you need to be able to cut loose and just shoot hoops, let the words flow, or stain a few canvases.

You need somewhere to make mistakes. Some options feel safer than others and some of us want to reveal less about ourselves than others, but wherever it is, however you do it… I think you need a way to let yourself go crazy, get free, and get out of your head. This blog isn’t even it for me, not entirely. I’m a lot more casual in what I write here, how I write, etc…. a lot less ‘uptight’ I guess you could say. But even I need a place no one else will see, where the possibility of someone else reading it doesn’t even enter into the equation. I free write on my computer, write in a journal, and sometimes I use 3×5 cards to jot down stray thoughts or make notes. It’s mostly raw, messy… and necessary.

I would say give yourself the option, if you need it, of cherry picking, cutting out, or altering what you share. Make a “safe” way that sets you at ease if that’s what you need to do. I’m talking mostly about writing (and blogging), but it applies to a lot more than that. Making music, competing in a sport… just about anything you could do… if it needs to be in a ‘safe zone’ then so be it, but with or without a protective barrier between you and other people… have an outlet, make mistakes. Find a means of solitary catharsis. Somewhere that you can be reckless in what you do or say.

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21 thoughts on “Don’t Be So Careful

  1. It’s important to be thoughtful and considerate, but also free to give of yourself without censorship in the moment, whether it’s on the page or the canvas. It’s a relative honesty, appropriate to the moment and yet the rewriting is an important part of the process. Detachment and honesty are both tools in the box, amongst many. I really enjoy your posts, I respect the process you follow and the passion you show in your consideration of your craft.

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  2. This is some sound advice, but what I’ve discovered about myself over the years is that I’m closed off to such “freedoms”. Not just in my life but my writing as well. I have the terrible habit of self-censoring/editing as I write. Maybe this is why I game…but I even have a hard time making my in-game characters do what might be considered the wrong thing. Thanks for the food for thought!

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    • Oh don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of trouble with this myself. I see other people write their hearts out sometimes, posting all the time, almost always with something that captures my attention, and it’s like they’ve smashed open a floodgate inside themselves that *I* just can’t seem to open up.

      That’s part of why I kind of retreat to “safer” places to pour out raw stuff sometimes, like my journal or microsoft word, both places where there’s no expectation at the back of my mind of someone else reading it. Writing helps to bring things into focus a lot of the time, so when I don’t feel inclined to do it openly… I often try to go ahead with it privately.

      There’s that, and there are the times when I just don’t feel any particular urge to write (although I’ve been trying to make more of a habit of it lately… kind of with the idea in mind of a quote from Picasso… “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”).

      In any case, I’m glad it gave you something to think over 🙂 .

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      • That’s a great quote! I’m not sure if you noticed, but I’m rather fond of quotes. So I’m going to snag this. 😉 I try to write something everyday, even if it’s not one of my writing projects, but my blog, or these new short stories I’m trying my hand at, as it gives me a small sense of accomplishment. I hate feeling guilty that I haven’t written, and I think this is something we all (writers) struggle with, or at least the ones who would like to be “professional”. It’s the idea of time wasted. I have more ideas that I’d like to explore, but when I keep dragging my feet, it just pushes those further and further back. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately from fellow writers who have been struggling with this as well. Maybe it’s in the air?

        I think it’s healthy to vent in private. I’m not one for sharing my “dirty laundry”, even on FB among friends, and I don’t understand those people who have to share every detail of themselves any way they can. I used to write in my journal when I was feeling especially negative, and there’s a definite pattern among the ranting. I’m doing my best to change those things, so I’ve decided to not write like that anymore in an effort to stay positive, which for us can be difficult. I’m not sure if this is healthy though…

        Chin up! And hopefully our growing network here can continue to support and encourage each other! And here’s a quote for you – “Take time to do what makes your soul happy”. 🙂

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  3. This weekend we were visiting relatives for a wedding and there are a lot of old houses which have often a writing on the front, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes only relevant to the people who lived there. I saw one that stayed with me and kind of applies here: “Du wat dui wut, de ”Luie quakt doch” which is older german dialect from the region and means “Do what you want, people will talk either way”.
    It’s so true yet like you wrote I always try to consider each and every angle and at the same time don’t edge on. That can be very exhausting, while writing without being afraid could be so liberating. Maybe I should make that my new motto: Do what you want, make mistakes, people will take no matter what, so don’t be afraid.

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    • I like that 🙂 … It seems like I can never really shake the fear though. I’ve started to look at it as more of a thrill than anything else though, like an adrenaline junkie that goes sky-diving or bunjee jumping. It’s terrifying sometimes, the things we do, but that’s part of what makes them so fun and the high afterwards is usually unbelievable.

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      • Hm, I never thought about it that way, but it’s certaily true that going through a – let’s say – “uncomfortable” situation there follows an adrenaline high. Though for me it definitely depends on wether the situation has a positive or negative outcome ^^”
        I really want to get more out there in jump right into more “uncomfortable” situations until they feel normal and not so scary anymore 🙂

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  4. Excellent excellent excellent. Thank you so much for your words of inspiration today!
    Blogging kinda starts out like that – and then…I think we get scared…and we are back to those hundreds of pieces of writing laying about that never go anywhere.
    I think we tend to think EVERYTHING HAS TO go somewhere – and it just DOESN’T. It is a good reminder you have written here 😀
    Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked it 😀 . It’s kind of funny… a lot of the time a post like this can be a reminder to myself to. Sometimes I go back, reread, and wonder where the guy is that wrote it. And sometimes I have to *write* it just to kind of remind myself…

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      • …um…is it weird that I can relate to that? LOL!
        That makes it even cooler!
        I love that kind of writing – it freaks me out completely in a fantastic kind of way…but is very very useful!

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