My bride and I had a rare Wednesday evening with no kids home last night so we took advantage and had a date night. We had dinner, went for a short walk, and saw the Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence movie, Passengers. We both enjoyed it (I’ll admit to loving the concept and design of the ship) and it sparked a fun conversation regarding how Jennifer Lawrence’s character came to be a part of the film, which I won’t spoil here for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.
There is a spoiler or two coming here though, so you’ve been warned.
The premise of the film has the characters waking up from hibernation with 90 more years left on the journey to another planet. And of the 5,000 passengers, they’re the only two to awaken. Lawrence plays Aurora Lane, a writer who has embarked upon the journey for an adventure worth writing about. But the one she finds herself on is not the one she signed up for.
She writes anyway, detailing the bizarre situation she finds herself in, hopelessly marooned on a ship filled with thousands of people oblivious to her (and Pratt’s character’s) plight. At one point she confesses that she doesn’t even know why she’s doing it; knowing no one would ever read it until well after she was gone. She then adds that she thinks it’s maybe the best thing she’s ever written.
The thought is powerful and liberating. To write for no audience at all, but just for the sheer joy of it. To write with no fear of being judged. To write something for yourself without the usual pack of imaginary critics peering over your shoulder as you clumsily mash on the keyboards with two club like fists, silently praying that the infinite monkey theorem might come true for you just this one time.
That doesn’t mean you don’t care how good your writing is (or isn’t). It just means you don’t care how good somebody else thinks it is (or isn’t). Most of us are our own worst critics anyway. So why gang up on yourself by trying to imagine what your stern-faced 8th grade English teacher would say about it. Or the Trolls.
So that’s my challenge to you (and myself). Write like you are going to die. Tell yourself, “No one else will ever read this, or at least if they do, I’ll be dead anyway so who cares what they think.” Then just let ‘er rip – Critics, Teachers, and Trolls be damned! You might surprise yourself with the results.