Sorry, but this is coming out.
Self-censorship! People (not just authors) censoring their own work out of fear of what others may think. This is actually a real thing? I mean, I’m definitely guilty of doing this myself, sometimes (which roughly translates to, “every story I’ve ever attempted to write”), but I’ve never really thought much of it. I didn’t really think that there was a name for it.
Why am I discussing this? Well, because of a tweet I posted yesterday. It was just an offhanded comment. I didn’t know whether I should use a particular word or not, and then after a while I just thought, “Screw it! It’s my novel, so why shouldn’t I write what I want?” And that’s where I left it. I didn’t let it get to me. I wrote what I wanted to write, turned off my laptop and went to bed. Done.
And then I woke up. And for some reason, I can’t seem to shake off the thought of self-censorship. For me, I found that when I posted the first few chapters of a story online, and people liked it and commented on it, it would hugely affect the path of the storyline. But an affected storyline is only half the issue (maybe even less of an issue), because what I also found is that when I wanted my character to say, think or do something, I could never make them say, think or do anything that I thought others might find highly vulgar or offensive. Even if it perfectly matched their personality! And that’s a definite issue when it’s in the first-person. Moral of the story? Don’t post unfinished stories online if you can’t stop other people’s comments clawing their way into your head and hatching their own tamer ideas that you’re not okay with, but only write because you think that’s what they’ll want and you don’t know how easily offended they are.
So, I thought about this a little, yesterday, but even more when I woke up today. Sure, it would be fantastic to be successful and actually have a core demographic to write for. But I’m not and I don’t. And you know what? The chances that that will actually happen are pretty slim. I’m just an eighteen-year-old, writing for my own enjoyment. And right now, other people liking my content is just a bonus, not an essential. If nobody else likes my content, then that’s just too bad. If people are going to be highly offended over what I write, then that’s not my problem. I’m not going to change it!
My main point? Don’t let other people affect what you write. Don’t censor yourself just because you’re nervous about what others might think. If you want your character to mouth off at every given opportunity (though, that would probably be pushing it) do it! If you want to write a highly graphic scene, whether it be sexual, violent or whatever, just do it! I’ve decided that I’m not censoring my writing anymore (don’t worry though, I’ll be a little hypocritical and keep this blog clean . . . for now). I know that this doesn’t apply to everyone, but to those of you that it does, just don’t be afraid of writing what you want to write. It’s your story, you call the shots.