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Taking Risks in Your Writing: “Really Going There”—Writer Unboxed

Today’s reblog comes from at Writer Unboxed. In this post, she explores how “really going there” allows us as writers to get the most out of our writing by taking risks and “letting it all hang out.”

Because I am also an editor, this is hard for me in my own writing process. As I write, I want to go back and edit, make it perfect before moving forward. Sometimes, it takes a real act of will to move forward at all. However, in writing, especially fiction writing, sometimes, you have to turn off the editor and let the story, the creation, flow. Let it run wild. I think this is essential in the first draft.

There will be time for perfecting the details later.

Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 version of The Shining is on Netflix now, so my husband and I recently rewatched it. It had been over a decade since I saw it last, and I was a little worried it wouldn’t hold up. (Don’t worry, horror fans; it holds up.) Despite Stephen King expressing dissatisfaction with this movie version of his novel, I think we all know that it’s the best version, plain and simple, and there’s really only one reason for that: Jack Nicholson’s performance as Jack Torrance is stellar. Outstanding. To this day, it remains one of the most chilling roles in cinema history.

When my husband told me about a YouTube video he’d come across showing behind-the-scenes footage of Nicholson pumping himself up for the infamous bathroom scene (aka ‘Here’s Johnny’), I knew I had to find it. The relevant pre-scene footage is only half a minute long, and necessary for the point of my post today, so I hope you’ll go give it a quick watch: “Jack Nicholson Prepping for The Shining.”

My husband’s commentary? Something along the lines of, “He’s acting like an actual lunatic. Can you imagine being on set with him?”

Yeah. That’s what struck me, more than anything else: to get that iconic scene, Nicholson was willing to make an absolute fool of himself in front of his support staff, coworkers, and bosses. He was willing to really go there, because that’s the only way, I’m convinced, we can get to deeply authentic art.

My next thought was: Thank goodness that, as a writer, my art happens alone. Thank goodness I don’t have to embarrass myself in front of other people to really go there.

That thought has been haunting me for a week now, because it’s a lie.…

Continued at Really Going There


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