How to Overcome the Anxiety of Writing a Sex Scene

Disclaimer: Guys, we’re going to talk about sex scenes today, so if you’re not eighteen or aren’t comfortable with this topic, you shouldn’t read any further.

Have you ever written a sex scene? Was it hard? Did you want to crawl under a rock and die? Did you wish someone else could do it for you? There are many reasons writing a sex scene can be downright frightening. Well, at least uncomfortable. But the biggest reason writers struggle when writing a sex scene is embarrassment.

Some writers are embarrassed about who might read their sex scene. What would their mother think? What about their neighbors? Others know that some readers assume whatever the characters do in bed is equivalent to a peek into the author’s bed. Who wants a voyeur in their bedroom? Or maybe you’re afraid your sex scene will flop—that it could never measure up to what has already been published. And some writers are simply uncomfortable thinking about, talking about, and writing about our…um… private parts and how theses parts can behave. Naughty, naughty private parts.

You need to turn off that little voice in your head that reminds you of your reason for being uncomfortable writing a sex scene. Remember, you’re not the one having sex on the pages. Your characters get to have all the fun. And, while some readers will assume if your heroine likes to give blowjobs while standing on her head, then you do, too. There’s nothing you can do about the ignorance of others. However, most readers won’t think about your sex life when they read a sex scene in your book. If you’ve done your job, they’ll be so lost in the moment that all they’ll be thinking about is how hot the hero and heroine are for each other. Readers won’t buy your books to get to know your sexual likes or dislikes (unless you wrote a nonfiction book on the subject). Most readers probably don’t want to know or don’t care what you do behind closed doors. They’ll buy your books because they love the stories you tell. They want to get lost in your characters’ lives. Not yours.

But how can you overcome your anxiety of writing a sex scene?

You could:

-recite a daily mantra that goes something like this: “It’s not about me. It’s about my characters.”
-post a sticky note to your monitor that says, “My hero and heroine are hot and want to be together.” Or, “John wants Judy. Let them have their way with each other.”
-pretend you are your characters and live through them as you write.
-imagine you’re a bestselling romance author and allow yourself to write as dirty as he/she does.
-read a sexy scene or two in a book to inspire you.
-watch a steamy movie to get your mind “in the gutter”.
-set the mood with music, candle light, roses, and wine.
-learn from the pros—study what works and what doesn’t in what has already been published and learn from it.
-practice writing sex scenes about characters who don’t matter to you. (This removes the emotional connection you have to your characters.)
-watch a sex scene in a movie and describe what you saw as though you were writing that scene.

The takeaway is that you need to remember the sex scene you’re writing isn’t about you. There will be times when your characters will want to do things that you have never attempted (and may never attempt). But, if the situation fits your characters and the genre in which you’re writing, go for it.

What do you do to overcome the anxiety related to writing a sex scene?

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Lynnette Labelle

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