Have you ever written naked? No, I’m not talking about those times when you can’t being bothered to get dressed in the morning (although, perhaps that might influence what you write). Instead, I’m talking about being free to write what you want to write.
SJ (Sarah) Banham has just published a book of writing prompts, which she’s called Writing Naked, that are designed to undress writers from the fashionable constraints we sometimes put ourselves under, if not the constraints of writing for a market.
So what started her off on this journey?
“The two specific things that prompted Writing Naked were, firstly, a fascination with different kinds of photography whether it is nature, the weather, urban or abstract. I love the atmosphere of black and white, yet I also enjoy how metaphors can make the most mundane of images something into incredibly special. The second reason is because while the industry requires writers to work in specific genres for sales to be realised, I feel a writer should dig within themselves, into their psyche, to write something that does not fit into any category thus discovering a raw state of creativity.”
We all stick to our comfort zones, and being dressed is certainly one of those, but sometimes we need that little nudge to push us out of it. Writing Naked is that nudge.
“Whether you’ve written in the same genre for thirty years or tried different ones, this book aims to enthuse, engage and entertain a writer enough to instil the confidence to challenge their comfort zone. Playing with a word, phrase or photograph can trigger emotions worth investigating. It is all about perception.”
Having reviewed the book for Sarah, one thing that struck me was the variety of prompts, which made me wonder how I would select the prompts if I’d had this idea. I’m not sure I could have done. Sarah, though, knew what she wanted to achieve.
”I wanted a good selection of written prompts and photographic ones but had to be tough on myself and allow just a few. If I put all the ones I love into one volume, it would be overwhelming and devalue what I’m trying to achieve. For the text prompts, I included ones that would make you think, smile and drive you to write. For the photographic ones, I included those showing colour, atmosphere, abstract and metaphors as my criteria. On the plus side, I still have plenty for Volume Two!”
You could argue that Writing Naked has worked for Sarah, for not only has she just published this book, but she’s also published another called Ghosting!. (It’s not about writing so naked that people can see through you.)
Ghosting tackles the ghostwriting side of the business, where writers produce the text on behalf of those who have stories to tell, but not the writing skills to do it. Frequently, though not always, they do it without acknowledgement. Instead it’s treated as a business transaction: payment received for writing services provided.
So what led Sarah to write about this topic?
“Ghosting! was written primarily because when the Press report on a ghosted book, it is rarely set in a good light. This tends to encourage readers into thinking ghost written books are bad. I’ve heard it said by a friend that he felt ghost writing was ‘dodgy’ and unauthentic. Writing a book, whether it is your own or ghost written takes effort, time, experience, skill and a huge amount of patience. To hear your work is regarded as dodgy and unauthentic is a huge slap in the face. Ghosting! Aims to shed some light on this natural silent corner of the industry. Using humour with each chapter heading: Ghost Hunting, Communicating with Ghosts, Ghost in the Machine etc gave it an accessible feel. I used my experiences to show how to be one or hire one and Ghost Writer, Andrew Crofts was also kind enough to review it too.”
Both of these books are a part of Sarah’s continuing writing journey and business. They’re a reminder that we’re continually learning about our craft, developments in the business of writing, as well as learning more about ourselves as writers.
”After publishing my last book (I’ve Got a Pen & I’m Not Afraid to Use It!), I spent several years falling into a self-doubt circle. Publishing paralysis had taken hold and it was driving me crazy because without publishing again, it is tough to maintain a writing business. I hadn’t stopped writing, I just couldn’t bring myself to publish so I decided on a different kind of publishing process. I chose to E-publish both Writing Naked and Ghosting! since I hadn’t used that format before and because this industry is moving so fast, I felt I had to hit the ground running to remind readers I was still here. Thus my 9th and 10th books were finally out there.”
”The cover of Writing Naked speaks volumes about my feelings of towards creativity. Throwing myself back into publishing by posing naked emphasises the ‘warts and all’ approach since my ‘hardly sylph-like’ figure highlights how raw creativity can be if we allow ourselves to shed the boundaries often set by the industry.”
So, if you fancy shedding off a few constricting layers, I can throughly recommend Writing Naked to prompt you into steeping out of your comfort zone. And who knows, one such zone could be writing someone else’s story for them and becoming a ghost writer. Wouldn’t that be spooky?
Both books are available from Sarah’s website: www.loveofbooks.co.uk