When I’m writing a provocative or possibly-shocking piece, or about to do something shocking or provocative and possibly controversial and need to protect myself by preparing for the consequences, there’s an exercise I do.
I call it “This Is Not For You.”
(And you can do it with your own writing, with your own art, with your business, with controversial decisions you MUST make.)
Here’s what you do:
Hold each person who might be shocked/appalled/concerned/upset in your head and your heart, and say, lovingly, to each one:
This is not for you.
There’s no anger, no aggression, no haters-gon-hate, no defense. Just truth. This is not for you.
When I write, it’s not for my mother, my employer, my cousin, my ex. (Except when it is.) It’s for the women curled up in the fetal position rocking through her pain, the woman rocking out, the woman making out, the woman making it.
Each piece isn’t for an audience, it’s for one person. Write it for her. Do it for her. (Do it for yourself.) Offer it to her, the one who needs it, and tell everyone else, quietly, with care, this is not for you. Of course you don’t get it, don’t like it, don’t need it, maybe even wish I didn’t write it. Because this is not for you.
Because greatness, and even truthfulness, isn’t a popularity contast. It will repel some people. And that’s ok. It’s not even personal. It’s just not for them, so why write for them? Write for the people who need your message. Write for yourself.
And it’s the same in regular life, too. I spent a long time trying to be hot for every man on earth and was utterly disappointed in myself when I didn’t successfully turn on every creature in the street.
But now I think, This is not for you. I aim to please myself and the select people who can see my light.
And oh, he does.