I’ve probably said most of the stuff in this article at least once before, but I thought that it was worth repeating – as much for my sake as for yours. Yes, it’s another woeful lamentation about how self-censorship is ruining my creativity and about how it might be ruining yours too.
You see, despite my recent articles about not really being a fiction writer any more and not being interested in long projects, there still seems to be this persistent idea at the back of my mind that I should be working on a longer project of some kind.
But, whenever I try to even sketch out plans for a longer story or for any kind of comic, I find that I don’t really have any stories to tell. Well, that’s not strictly true, but any vaguely decent ideas I have usually get abandoned fairly quickly because of self-censorship.
In other words, I think something like “Wow! This idea is really cool but what will people think? Will I get lots of outraged comments? Will my blog end up being classified as “mature content” if I post it here? Will I alienate my audience? If I post it on “PekoeBlaze Uncut” only three people will ever read it ….” I’m sure you get the idea.
One thing I’ve noticed ever since I started regularly posting my work online a couple of years ago (firstly on DeviantART and then on here too) is that I’ve started censoring myself a lot more than I used to and this has probably affected my creativity quite a bit.
To use a film metaphor, most of my current fiction, non-fiction and art is 12A/PG-13 level stuff at the very most (but usually just PG-level stuff) whereas most of the work that I’d really love to create is probably 15, 18 and R18 level stuff (R-rated to NC-17 for my American readers).
Or, to use a musical metaphor, the stuff that I publish is more like a mainstream pop song, whereas the type of stuff that I really thrive when I’m creating is more like either this amazingly badass horror-themed heavy metal song (Warning – contains strobe lighting, hot guys and strong language) or, more likely, this brilliantly cheesy Iron Maiden video from the 90s [slightly NSFW].
At heart, I’m a splatterpunk horror writer and I’m also an erotic fiction writer too (and I could easily put “Fifty Shades” to shame within about five minutes of starting a new story). I like writing cynical dystopic cyberpunk fiction. I like writing macabre surreal detective and fantasy fiction. I like making gory horror comics (like this one), explicit art and cynical comedy comics.
My best stories usually include realistic narration (which can sometimes be slightly crude) and a fairly twisted, cynical and dark sense of humour.
In other words, I’m at my absolute creative best when I’m creating the kind of stuff that causes controversy, externally-imposed censorship and angry articles in the Daily Mail.
But I almost always only ever feel like I can produce fairly bland and inoffensive stuff rather than honest stuff whenever I post anything on the internet. And, since I’ve set myself a schedule that I plan to keep to – I don’t always feel like I have the time or energy to spare for honest projects that really fire my creativity.
For me, it’s actually much more of a challenge to produce “PG”-level stuff than it is to produce the kind of wonderful art and fiction I’d gleefully make if I felt that no-one was watching or that no-one would judge me for it.
Whilst this challenge can kind of be fun sometimes, it has affected my creativity somewhat (and I can’t even find a decent way to get past these self-imposed blocks on my fiction and art).
So, if you’ve got writer’s block or artist’s block, then it might be worth looking at how much you’re censoring yourself. If you’re still not sure whether you’re censoring yourself or not, then just ask yourself “what would I make if no-one was watching”.
Then try making it.
If it’s very different to the stuff that you normally put out there, then there’s a good chance that your creative blocks are being caused by self-censorship.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂