A while ago I talked about giving yourself time to deal with your prejudices in regards to your writing. This is especially important for writers, because once you put that book out for everyone to see, well, everyone sees it.

I said ‘prejudice’ instead of ‘ism’ (racism, sexism, etc.) because of the extreme reaction some people have to the ‘R’ word, and the fact that many minority groups believe they can’t be ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, etc., because they aren’t in power.

What they are actually talking about is institutionalized white male heterosexual supremacy, but the use of the ‘R’ word (or any ‘ism’) in that context only serves to confuse the issue, in my view.

So let’s talk about prejudice in place of the ‘isms’. Because deep down, we’re all prejudiced about something.

Here’s a good way to look at prejudice: who do you feel is of less worth than you? Who do you feel life would be better without? Who do you think should just ‘get over it’ or ‘deserves’ to be abused or slighted?

Consider this carefully before you say ‘no one’.

Women? Men? Some race? The elderly? Children? The homeless? A certain political party? A certain sexual orientation? A particular religion? The disabled?

At any given time in my life, I’d have to say I was guilty of most of those.

The reason why it’s important to get at your prejudices (your ‘isms’ if you like), other than the part about everyone else being able to see them, is that unless you plan to write solely about someone exactly like you, you’d better be able to understand the Other (those who are Not You), at least a little.

If you can’t even understand the person sitting next to you on the bus or on the freeway or at your school or job, how in the world can you understand someone living in the fourteenth century, or in Tau Ceti, or in the Unicorn Kingdom?

Unless you’re just going to make them exactly like you too.

Is that really what you want?

Think about it.

When you’re ready, a good place to start is by reading the articles here. I haven’t taken their workshop, but I have (and recommend) the book “Writing the Other“, mentioned on that page. You can’t get it on Amazon or I would have linked to it directly.

Then look around you and really see the people you’re with all day. It will only make your writing better.