I would ask them to tell about some childhood memory, that is, to write it as carelessly, recklessly, fast and sloppily as possible on paper. […] Their only effort became to tell spontaneously, impulsively, what they remembered.
And I asked for childhood experiences for this reason. A child experiences things from his true self (creatively) and not from his theoretical self (dutifully), i.e. the self he thinks he ought to be. That is why childhood memories are the most living and sparkling and true.
From If You Want to Write
I often feel a lot of anxiety before publishing a post. Why? Mostly because I know that I have blog subscribers and they will (hopefully) be reading the post that I’m agonizing over. I worry about my tone, whether or not what I’m saying could be misunderstood, and if I will offend anyone. It’s embarrassing to admit that I can feel that self-conscious when writing, but it’s true.
This kind of over-thinking and self-censorship completely hinders my ability to write well. In the words of Brenda Ueland, the woman who wrote If You Want To Write, I’m writing from my “theoretical self,” the adult self that worries about what other people think. Good writing is honest, not contrived or safe.
Do you ever feel like you’re holding yourself back? If so, how do you work past it? If you’d like, I encourage you to give Ueland’s writing exercise a shot: pick a childhood memory and write freely. After you’ve written it, think back to how you felt and ask if the process felt any different from how you usually feel when typing away. If you make your childhood memory public, be sure to share it in the comments. (That’s where I’ll be sharing mine and I’d love to see yours!)