Honey Badger Don’t Care: A Guest Post by Shari Slade

I am delighted — delighted, I tell you — to present a guest post today from the amazing Shari Slade, Friend of Wonk, frequent commenter, and all-around awesomesauce person, on the topic of Honey Badger and silencing the voice of doubt. And if you don’t like it? DON’T CARE.


When I crack my knuckles (gross, I know) and waggle my fingers over the keyboard, the voice over begins. Not the voice of my character, though hopefully that starts too, but the VOICE OVER.

You know what I’m talking about. Oh God, I hope you know what I’m talking about. We all hear voices, right? I’ve seen the memes.

Some writers refer to it as their internal editor or their lizard brain. I’m fond of sending Shelley Ann Clark’s to his corner. For me, it can go one of two ways. Some days, most days, I get The Voice of Doubt. (Not to be confused with The Metatron*, though that is an easy mistake to make.) I’ll call it VD, because it’s with me all the time and leads to some awkward late-night conversations. It’s something I manage.

VD sounds a lot like Dorothy Zbornack from The Golden Girls. She’s a snarky, sophisticated lady, with fabulous shoulder pads so you know she means business. And she can fill her voice with spine-melting judgment. As VD’s go, I could do worse. She’s pretty bad ass when she’s on your side.**

She is NOT on my side.

I get this:

tumblr_mqxykjXC7I1sdhcjno1_250 Or this:


And late at night, this:


But, wait. Wait. On my best writing days, the days when I don’t hesitate too long over the keys, I get Honey Badger. I’m going to assume everyone has seen the video, but just in case:



All you really need to know is that Honey Badger Don’t Care. Honey Badger gives Dorothy Zbornak pause.


I heard a lot of “there are no rules” messages at RWA13. Inspiring, but I know very well that there are rules. Tons of them. All over the internet, in workshops, and craft books. Usually with the caveat that if you are special, and understand The Rule, you (dear snowflake) can break it. Maybe. If the wind is blowing southerly on a Tuesday and all the stars align.

Rules, rules, rules.

I hates them, precious. So does my Honey Badger.

Honey Badger eats rules for breakfast, right after his big bowl of poisonous snake-flakes, washed down with a glass of freshly squeezed I Don’t Even Give a Fuck. When he wants a snack, he reaches his paw into a plot hole full of stinging bees and licks those bees from his claws. He licks them and he likes it.

Honey Badger just keeps going.

When I’m badgering my way through a scene (and Sweet Baby Jeebus, I wish I could badger more) I don’t waste time thinking Should I? Can I? Honey Badger says YES, ALWAYS. Is that too far? Honey Badger says NOT FAR ENOUGH. GO FARTHER. GET NASTY.

Because NASTY is where it’s at, baby. Nasty is the sick-sweet ache of finding something that is true, and real, and possibly beautiful in its ugliness*** and not backing away from it. Letting it bite and sting and cut, as you push forward with the story you want to tell. Faster than doubt. Because there is no should or can. There is only MUST. YES. DO.

This isn’t about being gratuitously shocking. It’s about taking risks. And being authentic. And just getting through a first draft without falling into the pit of despair. The pit that looks a lot like me sitting alone in a room staring at a blank page while VD tells me I can’t write that, someone else already did it better, and really that is just too much, and you aren’t allowed to have heroes who braid hair.

The pit stinks.

Smell Bad

Of course it does.****

Even as I write this, I can hear VD creeping in. She’s saying: Who do you think you are, Missy? You’re not published. You’re nobody. You don’t have any answers.

And I don’t. I don’t have any answers at all, but I’ve got Honey Badger. And you know what he’s saying? DON’T CARE.

Also, that he would like to eat Serena Bell’s lizard.

Do you have a Voice of Doubt? What does it sound like? Maybe Honey Badger will eat yours too.



**If your heart is true, I hear she’s a pal and a confidant.

***Truth? Beauty? Honey Badger says FUCK KEATS.

****When in doubt cram in as many cult references as possible. Honey Badger says USE THEM ALL.

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17 Responses to Honey Badger Don’t Care: A Guest Post by Shari Slade

  1. *tilts head to listen*
    Did you hear that? It was angels singing. Singing because they were taking the committee in my head and dropping each member, one by one, into a pit of boiling soy sauce.

    I do realize that they’ll rise from the salty depths and strike again, but at the moment, they’re flailing around down there, and not in my head. Yay!

  2. I know the unpubs get this advice a lot (I did) and it’s irritating (I was), but it’s true. This is the perfect time for you to go all Honey Badger on their asses! You don’t have deadlines or editors expecting a particular THING yet. So an aspiring writer working towards her first publication has a freedom she’ll never truly have again. There are no expectations stacked against you.

    So go eat (or screw) that cobra – even if it IS nasty! DON’T CARE!!

    • Jeffe! This is *so* true. I think when you are unpubbed, your laser focus is just to *get* pubbed. (Mine was.) And in all that struggle (beautiful, beautiful struggle), I sometimes forgot to have fun. I still need that reminder to write the sh*tty first draft. STILL. Just let it fly.

  3. Keats was a total bastard; fuck him so hard.

    I talk to my students about the voices every semester. Since many of them have struggled in school and are unsure even why they are in my community college class and feel no confidence in their abilities, they have heard the undermining voices. The voices are so powerful they are possibly drowning out my own voice as I talk to them. (I paraphrase Anne Lamott too and tell them if they don’t have any voices they are too well adjusted the rest of us don’t like them very much, but, I rarely meet these people.)

    The thing is, especially for “beginning” writers, they haven’t yet learned that what they are hearing in their head isn’t their own voice. They think it is them, some kind of smarter, better version of themselves telling them to give up because they are never going to get anywhere. So, one of the first exercises I work on with them is about getting them to notice when they hear something in their mind while they are writing. I tell them to write it down on the page too, to notice it, and once they notice it, they can develop strategies for dealing with it. I encourage them to talk back to the voice, to push it aside, but ultimately, sometimes we have so little belief in our own selves that we don’t know how to combat the lizard brain/the evil parent/the previous teacher/VD. So, I tell them to quote me instead.

    When the voice talks and they notice it and don’t know what to do, I tell them to write, “my teacher says you…” and to fill in the blank. And I say a whole bunch of nutty stuff they can quote. I say the bottom line is the voice isn’t going to get their work done for them, so at the very least they can say, “until you write this for me, shut up.” Ultimately, the voice is about our own fear, which is a powerful force.

    Ms. Slade, you know I have this voice too, as I practically begged you to tell me I’m not crazy a few weeks back. My voice likes to call me crazy, untalented, and forgettable. The power of these voices is that they are often tied to real experiences. People often look at me like I’m nuts, and in many positive ways I am, but my strengths and skills often lie in the realm that other people call nutty. I know some incredibly talented people and feel dwarfed in their midst. I am no slouch, but really some of the people I know are freaking awesome. And, people forget about me all the time. They make promises they forget, they forget my name, they reinforce the idea that there is nothing much to remember about me, which means I’m not contributing much to the world and I’ve got nothing much to say. These voices, though from a place of fear, have power. I guess I need me a honey badger.

  4. Selma says:


    My VD likes to strike when I’m halfway through a book and the enormity of the project starts to overwhelm me. “You can’t tie all these threads together”, “This doesn’t make any sense”, “This isn’t coming together as well as you hoped”.

    Sometimes I agree with her and start over. Sometimes I sacrifice her on the altar of Honey Badger. Probably the more often I do the latter, the better writer I am.

  5. Kailynn Jones says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Like, for reals, thank you. The past couple of months my inner demon, I call her FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, & Doubt) has been screaming in my ear every time I sit down and making me crazy. I think I need me some honey.

  6. Ellie says:

    Thank you, Shari. I needed to hear this today. I’m neck-deep in revisions and my Inner Editor has been harping in my ear. I like writing so much better when it’s my Muse who is showering praise and good ideas. Even better are the days when the Muse throws my Inner Editor in the trunk and takes the wheel. Those are the best.

  7. Lynn Rae says:

    My honey badger is ever at my side, snarling at every absurd and time-wasting thing that tries to distract me in those precious few minutes I have to write each day. I adore my honey badger. She tells me it’s okay to have my characters behave decently and take their time with each other. My honey badger tears up convenient tropes into tiny pieces and lines her burrow with the predictable little pieces. She disembowels every rejection I get. HONEY BADGERS RULE THE UNIVERSE!

  8. How about a standing ovation.
    *stands and ovates*
    A seriously wonderful post, Shari! I think the more I learn about craft, the more afraid of breaking rules I become. (Curse of the firstborn!) I recently learned of an author tic I have and NOW IT’S ALL I SEE. I was worried that I’d never again write another word without that school-marm-finger-wagger in my head saying, “Now, don’t you forget to…”
    Honey Badgers eat school marms, yes?