12 Most Edifying Reasons Why Writers Self-Censor
The greatest challenge for me this year is to spice up my blogging. At the very worst, writing can be bland without a strong voice holding it together. We may have self-censored to the point that the public will reject the product for being boring. This is not good for personal or business writing. So why do writers self-censor?
Like any form of editing, what you choose to leave in or out is deliberate. Even if you are in the wrong, have the courage to acknowledge it. Don’t bury the story, but respond and take responsibility. Whatever you choose to publish: own it!
Here are some of the reasons that I feel writers self-censor. I hope they resonate with you.
1. Don’t offend
I think this is #1 with a bullet. We are so afraid of offending anyone that we dull the impact of our words. A real turn off for readers who cannot get emotionally involved with the story.
A writer may self censor to hide names or locations. If the information comes from an informant this would be to protect them. Or maybe you want to make it harder for some reader to physically stalk you. This is something you should consider, especially if you are blogging.
I often worry about the conclusions someone might draw from my writing. In truth, as the author you have little control over how someone interprets your work.
4. Don’t know enough
Presenting balanced arguments is difficult. A subject can have many opposing perspectives and you don’t have time to research them all. This is an advantage if we ask our audience to fill us in on the areas where we are ignorant.
I still restrict the language I use and avoid cursing. Everyone has a comfort level and tolerance. A good guideline is to focus on what language will make your point clear to a reader.
6. Political correctness
What we find offensive is sometimes a gateway to examining our own prejudices and attitudes. South Park’s citizens have pushed the PC boundaries for 16 seasons. Writing on these sensitive issues is a big responsibility. Sometimes it is just easier to avoid them all together.
7. One of the big 3
Are you discussing religion, politics, or sex? These topics are explosive, but sometimes make for great conversations. Create a space where people feel safe to disagree.
Anger carries a very negative stigma, but you would find yourself in physical turmoil if you couldn’t find healthy ways express it. There are times when it is a necessary and appropriate reaction. It is not always beneficial to just put on a happy face and move on.
You will feel trepidation in tackling a subject if people criticized an earlier work. Experience can teach us what not to publish. Only you can decide to try again or not.
10. The market
Of course, this is a big one in business. Your use of language usually echos the attitudes of your customers. A brand can put themselves at risk for not paying due attention to the messages they send.
In some countries writing anything that reflects badly on the government can make you a criminal. Writers may censor their works to avoid arrest or execution.
Writers may censor because of the fear of retaliation. Unfortunately, this also means that their voice falls silent to those who are looking for support.
How do you deal with censorship with your blogging? How do you walk the line between self-expression and writing for an audience?
Featured image courtesy of Pink Sherbet Photography licensed via Creative Commons.