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Excerpt from Chapter 5: Eluding Your Inner Censor

This is an excerpt from the bestselling book, Globejotting: How to Write Extraordinary Travel Journals (and still have time to enjoy your trip!) by Dave Fox.You can order autographed copies on this website or download it for Kindle.

 


 

Nearly all writers have an Inner Censor patrolling their thoughts. Some Inner Censors are more vocal than others. Often, we can’t actually hear them, but we feel their presence; we sense their uptight attempts to shut us up. If you’ve ever sat down to write, and suddenly heard a faint but insistent voice saying, “No! You can’t write that,” that’s your Inner Censor talking.

Don’t write that because it’s not good writing. Don’t write that because somebody might not like it. Don’t write that because it’s not polite. Don’t write that because it’s embarrassing. Don’t write that because somebody might read it. Don’t write that because no one will want to read it. Don’t write that because it’s a lie. Don’t write that because it’s the truth. Don’t write that because maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t, but writing it might make it feel true. Don’t write that because if you write it, your words might leap off the page like an angry raccoon and sink their painfully sharp (albeit kind of cute) teeth into you and give you Rabies.

Yowch!

But our words can’t really do that. They’re just words. And our Inner Censors need to chill out.

Writing about ourselves can be nerve wracking. We fear our words aren’t good enough, or they’re too revealing, or they go against some “rule” we’ve been taught about how we should think. Inner Censors love to stir up this fear. Their job is to regulate what we write in an attempt to shield us from our own thoughts. Inner Censors aren’t concerned with good writing. They mean well, but they’re overzealous, like overprotective parents who won’t let us go out and play because something bad might happen. Ultimately, they can hold us back from writing what we really want to write. Most Inner Censors are way too sensitive. They tell us not to write down all sorts of things that could potentially make for more exciting journals or big discoveries about ourselves….

…Our Inner Censors go into overdrive when we journal because journaling is a genre of writing where we root around in our thoughts a lot. Our Inner Censors work extra, extra hard when we travel because in unfamiliar places, we often encounter thoughts that are very different from our everyday experiences. We might uncover fears or frustrations, confusion or feelings of inadequacy, the crankiness that is born out of travel fatigue, or judgments and prejudices about unfamiliar cultures that we don’t want to have, but which are inevitable on some level when we stray from familiarity. Our Inner Censor does what he or she can to limit these thoughts. But when we keep uncomfortable thoughts down in our subconscious, rather than untangling them and checking them out, the thoughts tend to stay trapped inside our heads, and they surface in ways we’re not even aware of.

Take a spin in the Flight Simulator!
Try out the Retire Your Inner Censor exercise!

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Published on Thursday, May 15, 2008

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