I love the idea that people who read erotica are more likely to pick up a pen and write some of their own too. Taking your fantasies and putting them down on paper can be a tremendously joyous thing. But writing erotica can be nervewracking too, even if you’re an experienced writer in other, less sex-focused areas. This week’s guest blogger is just that: a professional writer who recently turned his hand to penning something sexy. He got in touch to offer a guest post about the uniquely nervewracking (and fun!) act of writing erotica for the first time. So if you’ve been tempted to try your hand at it and need a little nudge to get started? This post is for you!
My first time writing erotica
I’ve always been nervous about writing erotica. I’m absolutely comfortable with any other kind of writing challenge you might want to put in front of me (in fact, I’m downright enthusiastic). Hell, I write as a career. But erotica? I never even tried until recently. And I found that more difficult than I expected.
Right, let’s do the whole ‘*scratch record* yep, that’s me’ thing, and go back a bit, because there’s one thing that I haven’t really made clear: it’s weird that I haven’t tried writing erotica before. I grew up in a time and place where porn wasn’t as accessible as it is now – outside of a few pages of porn mags torn out and passed around in the playground, I didn’t really have any way to get any.
Until I stumbled across a small paperback book of reader’s letters to Fiesta magazine, which featured stories and fantasies that were far more graphic than anything they could show in pictures. It was very much of its ‘confessions of a window-cleaner’ time, and even the writing had the feel of an eighties Soho cellar. It gave across a sense of horn that was somehow murky in amongst the smell of stale beer and fag ash (both from long-discontinued brands). It was poorly written and, in places, sexually naïve. One story seemed to think a sex-show performer could be ‘entirely circumcised’, by which they meant the skin of the entire cock was gone, allowing the guy to wank and climax just by thrusting, which sounds more like a drunken sex-dream after watching Hellraiser.
Teenage me masturbated furiously over this book, although admittedly not over the Cenobite-cock bit.
Years later, I managed to get my hands on a copy of Nancy Friday’s Women On Top, which was pretty formative. The stories and fantasies were fucked up and filthy but seemed far more genuine than the ones I’d read before. And, more importantly, they were women’s fantasies, women’s turn-ons. As a young cis man, this was insight that the porn and erotica I’d read so far had been lacking, and many an educational wank was had.
By the late ‘90s, I was an early convert to cybering, which (for the young people reading this) was the dial-up equivalent to sexting. Chat rooms were a chance to play with fantasies, and even occasionally meet people and put some of those fantasies into real life. Over the hours in private messages, you could weave together a detailed, filthy set of actions, from glances through to orgasms.
So, I’ve always loved talking dirty and writing dirty. But even with a general enthusiasm for both writing and erotica, it literally took me decades to try.
Part of it is, and let’s not be coy here… it’s scary. What turns you on is an incredibly intimate thing, and there’s a lot of trust involved in allowing someone else in. We’ve probably all had the moments when talking to someone where there’s a hesitation before saying ‘well, this might sound weird, but here’s one thing that I’ve always wanted to try…’
Writing of any kind is scary. It’s a very personal thing. Liking something that somebody else created isn’t very controversial, but holding up something you’ve created, and saying ‘hey, I think this is actually good’ feels both vulnerable and like an act of immense ego. You’re showing people something you’ve done and asking them to judge you, while hoping frantically that it doesn’t make them think differently of you.
And that’s just your brain. Fuck, trying to explain the bits that you don’t fully understand? The things that make you so hard that the material of your jeans against your cock is in serious danger of making you cum or so desperately wet that you just need something inside you and it doesn’t really matter what?
Yeah, that’s why. Along with a basic fear that I might just write bad sex. And with so many people online writing great sex, that can feel like a high bar.
But here’s the thing. The obvious thing that I discovered when I finally tried:
It’s really fun. Figuring out, while you’re writing it, what it is that you want to happen next. What would turn you on the most. Slowly creating and editing the kind of fuck that you want to read about. Occasionally writing with one hand elsewhere while you think about, in detail, just where hands and mouths should be, and how tightly they should be gripping…
It didn’t quite turn out like that at first – it took a while. You see, I’m pretty comfortable writing scenes and dialogue. I was even comfortable writing about the actual fucking. But the bit in-between that was more difficult than I expected.
I love the tease and the build-up. And that’s really what makes a lot of good erotica – not just that two people are fucking but establishing just how much they want to fuck and just how desperate they are, so that every touch, lick and thrust is more heightened. Just like in real life, the point between the teasing flirting and the actual move towards making it reality was more awkward. I built a scene that I loved, with two characters that were ready for it, with enough tension to suggest that they might not, and it was really working… and then one of them had to make the first move.
It’s like having a blank page, all of a sudden. Anything can happen next, so it becomes difficult. And when you have ANYTHING to choose from, whatever you pick could be disappointing. I put it away for a month before coming back to it.
But, also like real life, it turns out that making that first move is scarier in anticipation than reality. I’d been too worried about making the wrong decision, and I forgot one of the key bits of magic about writing – you can always change it. And it’s easier to fix something that’s wrong than to swim in possibilities. So I made a choice, and had one of the characters make a move, and it flowed from there. And it turns out, even if the first move isn’t perfect, all of the good stuff that happens next is easy and fun.
So, if erotica is something you’ve always wanted to do but found scary? Go for it. Do it for you. Write it in a way that turns you on. Because if you find it hot? It’s hot.
Yes, it’s scary, but sometimes good things are.
If you’d like to have a go at writing erotica, I’m always open to guest blog pitches! I’m slow to reply at the moment but please do read the pitch guidelines and get in touch if you have a fun idea.