Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sound Your Barbaric YAWP

I showed this scene (link here) from Dead Poets' Society to my Creative Writing class today. I'd forgotten what a brilliant scene it is, wow. It focuses on the idea that we should stop being SO worried about what other people think (a good tip for writers!) and just.....YAWP. There's a time to be unafraid and unreserved and not overthink things.

Honestly, I believe that's where our best writing comes. Mine seems to flow the best when I'm thinking about it the least -- when I'm not aching over every. little. word. that comes. When I'm relaxed and when I fire the little editor-dictator on my shoulder who wants to censor every single word before it hits the keyboard.

In her brilliant book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott talks about taking all the little "voices" (the sounds of people in your life who would want you to write a "certain way," or who might criticize what you do, or might even disapprove or make certain suggestions) and turning those voices into mice. Then, she suggests taking those mice, one-by-one by the tail, and dropping them into a big jar. Then, she says, seal the lid (poke holes in it first, of course). Essentially, metaphorically, lock the voices away so that you can have room to be YOU. Room to create without anyone else in the room.

That's basically what Robin Williams did in this scene. He covered the eyes of the painfully-shy Ethan Hawke - because only then could he tune out the other students - their giggles, their jeers, their opinions. And the result was brilliant.

So today, take a moment to relax your creative mind, to shut out all the other distracting voices (even your own!), and sound your barbaric YAWP!


  1. Such a great movie... full of so much about how to become your own person. I need to watch it again.
    Thanks for posting this...

  2. Agreed...I need to watch that movie again. Yawp! Forgot that totally. Great post. Thanks for the memory jog.

  3. YAWP!!! Ahhh, that's very freeing!! lol