Fearless Writing Part Three: Contrast Is Your Friend

If you’ve ever written and actually enjoyed the experience, then you have written fearlessly. In fact, writing doesn’t really begin until we forget to be afraid. So the question isn’t whether you can write fearlessly, but whether you can do it on purpose. On Monday, I looked at The Only Two Questions You Should Ever Ask; on Tuesday I looked at Having Faith. Here now is the third of the three best tools I know for writing fearlessly every day. Contrast Is Your Friend

From a pure craft standpoint, contrast is invaluable. Just as a flashlight’s beam is distinct in a dark room and nearly invisible in a brightly lit room, so too is whatever we are trying to share with our readers most perceptible against its opposite. So if you want to write about peace, you must show war; if you want to show forgiveness, you must show judgment; if you want show acceptance, you must show rejection.

Likewise, often the best way to know what we like is when we encounter something we don’t like. If you read a novel and you hate the ending, instead of griping to your husband or writing group about what poor choices the author made, think about how you would have ended it. Your frustration is pointing you toward something you wish to explore, but which has remained unexplored. That discomfort will only grow until it is released on the page.

Finally, the guidance system upon which you so depend to write from day to day speaks entirely in the contrast between the effortlessness of the right word, and the effort of the almost-right word. It speaks in the contrast between the fearlessness of asking yourself what you are most interested in, and the discomfort we have named fear that always comes when we wonder what other people will think of what we write. We must have both experiences for our guidance system to work. Without what we call fear, we would have nothing to guide us back to what we love.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion.

"A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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