A Writer’s Conscience

Various famous authors have said things about conscience and the writing process. Chekhov claimed: “I confess I seldom commune with my conscience when I write.”

Joseph Campbell, a key figure in writing theory, showed a little more restraint, but not much: Writer’s block results from too much head. Cut off your head. Pegasus, poetry, was born of Medusa when her head was cut off. You have to be reckless when writing. Be as crazy as your conscience allows.”

Anne Lamott is more inclusive of her conscience, stating that taking a stance adds to the beauty of the work: “Writing takes a combination of sophistication and innocence; it takes conscience, our belief that something is beautiful because it is right.”

Leo Tolstoy advised: “Beware of anything that is not approved by your conscience.”

In writing stories, we have to choose where we stand. 

The internet offers the ultimate get-out, absolving an author of responsibility for revealing information, for after all, if it’s online anyone could find it. Filmmakers have long been accused of inciting real-life violence by showing it on screen, with arguments that it does and that it doesn’t.

Film directors can get very touchy about the issue: 

Do your stories have a message for good? It needn’t be heavy-handed and preachy

Or, do you worry that your book might deprave readers?

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