How To Start Writing Dirty Words — Just Start

I love Christopher Hitchens’ flip witticism on the famous quote about writing; he said: “Everyone has a book in them and that, in most cases, is where it should stay.” It’s a cynical idea to keep us all grounded, but I tell people all the time—students in my writing classes or friends just asking for writing advice—write it, go ahead, who cares what it is, where it comes from and even what it might be? It’s my matter-of-fact response to that: “How do you do it, Ralph? How does one start writing dirty words?” question to which I always say: “Um, you just start writing.”

If you have something itching the inside of your noggin that you feel needs to be put down on paper, across a word document, or thrown into a text message, you’re going to email just yourself, go ahead and get it out. This unadulterated yawping is especially important when it comes to naughty writing, the kind of scribbling where I make a good amount of my bread and butter. I work in the ‘adult space’ writing web copy, blogs, press releases, fiction, interviews, toy reviews, and lots of fiction. Naughty scenes, snippets of hot dialogue, a deep gooey description of some dangerous canoodling all come screaming out of my brain at all hours of the day, and I wouldn’t be where I am professionally at present without slapping these words down.

I began sex writing when I met a couple who maned a phone sex line company. This was back in the late ’80s, when there was no Internet (Ralph, say it isn’t so, how did you survive? No Internet!?) and I came to meet this husband and wife team, looking as they were for women to voice their pre-recorded ‘scripts.’ A friend of mine answered this couples’ ad to lend her vocal talents to some recordings, and this friend wanted me to accompany her to make sure she wasn’t walking into something sketchy. We met this very sane and safe couple, mid 30’s or so, my friend recorded a few scripts, giving forth the requisite moans and “oh no, not that, please,” and during our Saturday night at their house, I inquired if they might need more ‘scripts.’ I was not yet a professional writer and had never written a steamy scene (save in my mind) but soon found I could spin off the three pages or so rather quickly, got paid to do so, and enjoyed the work.

(It was quite creative too, as the rules of what’s allowable on an 800# and 900# script differed.)

From there, I sold a few stories to Penthouse Letters (along with acquiring a bunch of rejections), placed one or two naughty interviews in an underground magazine. Then a buddy began a copywriting service where we suddenly found lots of work with adult companies. By then, the Internet and erotica/adult copywriting were exploding, so we made the best of it.

From there, I haven’t looked back (ok, maybe when the collection agencies are at the door), but I seem to keep making my way forward. Albeit, these days there seems to be less avenue for dirty words (something I will address in a later column) I seem to balance what I manage in sex writing against the writing I do for ‘mainstream’ clients.

And though it all, I just keep on writing.

Beyond the ‘I can’t write this stuff down, what if somebody sees?’ to the ‘I don’t even want to be thinking this stuff!’ there will come plenty of obstacles to stop you writing dirty words. I encounter them even now, from mainstream clients who balk when they hear about the ‘other’ kind of writing I do, to even the voice in my head that say to me ‘You know Ralph, you are probably the only one in the world who wants to read about robot copulation on Mars.’

I found out, no, I am not the only one.

Certainly, this naughty word-making is not for everyone to try or for everyone to read. But I genuinely believe have you the craving to make with the words that describe an encounter between the “beast of two backs,” (or any other beast to do whatever they want to do) let them fly. Don’t stop yourself before you even begin.


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