ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Freedom to Write

Freedom to Write is a loaded title. On the surface, it seems like this would be an essay about being free to write what you want-- politically? Most of us are, unless we live in countries like Myanmar or North Korea.

No, that's not what I'm talking about. I'm really talking about limitations-- writing limitations --but I don't want to use that word. I hate the word limitation and despise its existence.

Limitation is the opposite of freedom. If words have power, then limitation has power, after all, it is the result of self editing, self imposition, and self doubt. The common theme in all those words is the word self. That is you!

So okay, I'll just come right out and say it -- Self-imposed Limitations.

I once said I'd never write a zombie novel. I thought my gawd, how prosaic is that? Zombies have been so done they are over done. Then I spoke with the editor of Abaddon Books in England and he said that he'd be interested in seeing a pitch for a zombie novel from me. That's the sort of motivation we all dream of-- to have an editor ask you for something that could be made into a mass market paperback? So I pitched Abaddon and ultimately wrote the book Empire of Salt, which has done Great Guns for Abaddon. I was able to put my own stamp on the genre, creating a work that adds to the collection of zombie literature. I am so glad that I didn't succumb to my self limitation not to write a zombie novel. There's a good chance that my current success is predicated on this.

  • Self-editing. Self-editing is the interference in the creative cycle of one's ideas on what should or should not be included in a narrative. Self-editing is the choice we make as we write something regarding which word to use. This is normally fueled by what we each individually bring to the narrative. I've often found that the first word is the best word to use because it is the product of creativity rather than the product of a 20/20 editorial vision. I'd rather change the context of the word than change the word. Anything less is being untrue to the narrative.

  • Self Imposition. What the hell does that mean? I mean when you the writer impose yourself on the narrative construct. Who you are when you are writing informs the characters you write. You have to consciously remember this because your character might not share your point of view. It probably won't even share your gender or sexual preference. If you want to get good at this write some stories with as far an opposite of yourself as possible, then re-read it and see if it rings true? You'll find out more about yourself in this process than any three trips to the psychologist AND become a better writer.

  • Self-doubt. Lee Child wants you to have self doubt. Stephen King wants you to have self doubt. Danielle Steele wants you to have self doubt. Hell, I want you to have self doubt. Because if you stop writing and working because of some internalized belief that your work is substandard then it makes all of us who write without self-doubt, or who are able to conquer it, better able to be published. The more of you self doubters there are the easier my path is to publishing success.
Me with zombies from the Tucson Zombie Walk whom I never would have met if I'd allowed self doubt to creep into my creative process

So you have the complete freedom to write as long as you beware of your SELF. You can be the biggest roadblock to your own success. In fact, you probably are. Talent is one thing. Hard work is another. But the inculcation of freedom to do whatever we want to and with the narrative is something only those of us brave enough to write live with out a net can perform.

I'm fearless. I have no self limitations. I have another novel coming out from Abaddon in Feb 2012 called Blood Ocean and a novel coming out from St. Martin's Press in the Fall of 2012. 

And you ain't like me.

Or are you?

Do you not have the freedom to write?

Then figure out why not.


  1. Thank you. That was exactly the slap I needed today!

  2. Thanks Loren. Whenever you need it just ask :)

  3. This couldn't have come at a better time. I've been struggling with these very issues the last couple of weeks. Thank you.

  4. What? Randi? Come on. Please don't write. Listen to those self doubts. You write too well for me to have you as competition in the marketplace. :p

    PS. Glad I could help!