Should is also often one of those words that is well represented in our internal self-talk: I should do this I should do that. It’s a soft, but persistent and negative word, and as writers, I think it’s important to be aware of the words we use on ourself.
Should is also quite subjective, by the way. What I should do and what others think I should can at times be different things. What should I do when that happens? I should be me. That’s what I should do. See how insidious the term is in our language?
You know the saying: “I will not should on myself today”? I have a practice of not shoulding on myself, a practice much like yoga, much like meditation, much like breath awareness. When I am writing and I catch myself thinking should in my internal self-talk, I stop. Get up. Break the pathway. Take a breath. Then get back to work.
I’ll never get perfect at it but it is a thing I do to remind myself that the internal critic can be interrupted, that I don’t need to sit in judgment of me as often as I might want to and particularly when I’m writing. Better during editing.
And then: I ran across a thing by a writer I admire and it included the word should. Okay so yes, I am semantically sensitive. And yes, generally, I think people could pay better attention to what they say as well as what they write. And yes, some things should be judged and other things should not.
But I do like this perspective about writing and reading even though it contains that awful word should, and so, I am sharing it…
“You should write because you love the shape of stories and sentences and the creation of different words on a page. Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”
~ Annie Proulx