It’s become a sitcom cliché: A shy guy is called upon to speak in public and is advised to imagine the audience naked. Of course, he winds up imagining himself naked on the podium. Hilarity ensues.
Personally, I’ve never understood the advice. Sure, there’s likely to be a few people in the audience I’d rather not imagine naked, but I’d be too wrapped up in imaging
the pretty ladies my wife undressed to say anything. Heck, I’m a guy — I spend a not-insubstantial portion of my day imagining pretty ladies my wife undressed.
Lechery aside, as paperleaf.ca expert says: Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be naked while writing. Even people with the body of
a Greek god Buddha such as myself tend to get done with things quickly when wearing a birthday suit, and writing quickly is a great way to preserve your voice and develop your style.
Why so speedy?
We’ve all got lots of little voices in our heads telling us reasons we can’t write. They ask us questions like “Are you even qualified to write about that?”, “Is that the best way to phrase this?”, and “You didn’t leave the house dressed like that, did you?” There’s only one voice saying we can, and that’s us, standing on the podium, feeling a draft. But if you start pounding out the words, maybe you can get finished before the hecklers in the audience can even open their traps to question your writing and dressing abilities.
Aside from the questions, the most insidious thing the little devils do is edit your voice right out of your own words. Those chances we take and flourishes we make define us as writers and set us apart from the thousands of factory writers willing to write the same thing for a penny a word. But If you listen to the voices, you’ll take these idiosyncrasies out for fear of embarrassing yourself. After all, if it were a good idea, everyone would be doing it, right?
Part of doing things quickly is not stopping. Not even to look up little things like facts. So you’ll have to use TKs. TK is a journalistic shortcut which means “To come.” (Go figure.) So when you’re going along, dropping bombs like the Bible’s got psalms, and get to something you don’t know or want to write, slip in a TK and move on. For example:
I was TK years old when I wrestled my first shark.
It was a dark and TK night.
He cackled as he laid out his nefarious plan. Plan TK.
When you’ve run out of steam, you can do a search for TK and fill in the blanks. Just don’t forget to replace them! Letting a TK get published is mighty embarrassing.
Peeling away the layers
If you’re not as
confident blissfully ignorant as I am, the nudity should probably be metaphorical. You don’t want the kids wandering in and seeing exactly where a Big Mac goes after you eat it. (Pro tip: Nowhere good.) Tell yourself that you’ll burn the first draft as soon as you’re done and no one else has to see it; there’s no reason not to take chances if you’re the only one who knows, right? The trick is that you don’t actually burn it. You take that draft and polish it, taking out what didn’t work and building upon what did. You might be surprised how many things you felt uneasy about not only work, but mark the piece as definitively yours.
If nothing else, just think of the new friends you’ll make when you put “I write naked” in your Twitter bio.