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Scott Lax Blog

Writing About What You Don't Want to Write About

H.L. Mencken once said, "There are no dull subjects. There are only dull writers."

I sometimes give my students an assignment to write about something they don't want to write about. I've heard and read some wonderful results of this exercise, but here I only want to say why I think this can be helpful.

Writing about what you don't want to write about helps you understand your own nature better, and helps you examine your prejudices, as well as the wider world you may have neglected. This applies to writing about people you don't like, as well.

In fiction, those people may become characters. Those characters – because you now understand them, even if a little – become people once again, instead of clichéd characters. In other words, they're not dull. They're real.

As well, you'll face your fears, including those that involve people that frighten you, or have hurt you or those people about whom you care. It's okay to create a character without being that character. You are not your characters. You are a writer, the one who creates them. There's a big difference.  Read More