Writing is an act of intimacy. We feel deep affection for the characters we create. To write with authenticity, we also need to accept internal intimacy, digging deep for our truest emotions and experiences. At our most successful, we open ourselves to our readers, sharing our thoughts on the way life is.

As with romantic intimacy, creative intimacy can be intimidating. It may feel safer to write only on the surface, to withhold secrets and trauma and what we believe about our lived experiences. That path is safer and can be entertaining, but have you made this choice consciously?

If you’ve been following along as I explore the concept of conscious writing, you probably want more. I do too. But you – like me – may be listening to the inner voice that warns you to hold back.

Don’t share that unpopular opinion.

Don’t explore that idea.

Don’t talk about trauma.

Don’t write anything that would embarrass your parents.

Don’t get too crazy!

That voice is trying to keep you safe on the shore, but is that what you want? Or is your path on the water? If you listen to that voice too often or for too long, it will guide you away from your destination, until it falls out of sight.

For today, think about times you’ve made a difficult creative choice. Perhaps you dropped a story idea because someone said you shouldn’t write it. Maybe you decided not to write about something bad that happened within your family. Maybe you held back details that would have made a character seem unlikeable. Have you ever decided not to write something because you were afraid your friends would think you were mean or perverted?

Did you have a good reason for your choice? Did you follow your heart or did you follow your programming?

What would have happened if you followed the other path?