Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Writing from the inside out

I was lying on the couch tonight, recovering from stomach flu, and watching a show about Rod Serling. They spoke of how often his scripts were born from writing through and about his own internal conflicts or fears.

Often as writers we begin to think of our writing as an outside entity, driven by external forces and ideas. The muse visits us. Our characters take control of the story. I have often written about the process in this way here in this blog. The mention of Serling's drawing from his internal struggles was a reminder to me. Sometimes, our best work comes not from looking at the world around us for inspiration, although that can be powerful, but from delving deep inside ourselves and squaring off against our own fears, hopes, desires, struggles. This writing can be painful, can be dangerous.

Writing from the inside out. Maybe it's like sewing a garment. You muust put it together inside out first, to make the seams clean. When the structure, the bones, are finished, you turn it rightside out and put on the finishing touches that make it beautiful for the world. The best writing combines these personal internal visions with the external connections that make them speak to others, to the audience.


  1. I think you're onto something with the garment metaphor. When it's done, someone else has to wear the garment. But the idea was based on something about yourself.

    Come to think, I live in mortal fear of what my work is saying about me. ;D

  2. I think that fear of what our work says about us plays a role in self-censorship. And those wonderful literary critics who look at an author's work to see what they can glean about the author - they don't help that fear, do they?

  3. That's very true, about the wannabe profilers of academia as well as the fear of what our work says about us.

    It borders on narcissism or exhibitionism, but I do think it's important for writers (and artists in general) to dig deep into themselves. For honest emotion, to take a genuine look at ourselves, instead of simply affirming our own assumptions about the world.


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