Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sunday Salon - Writer's Block!

The Sunday Salon.com

Thanks so much to Emily at Telecommuter Talk for writing the post that sparked this idea for me. She wrote about the difference between having an active imagination and an over-active imagination. For both of us, the over-active imagination comes out (in one of many various ways) in imaginary discourses with a very critical inner critic. In my comment to Emily on her post, I described my inner critic as 'a judge from Plymouth times who is almost impossible to please." It doesn't matter what I write lately, once I've gone away for the day from my work, out he comes and starts saying I am stealing plots and ideas, or just uninspiring and boring, and it's already been done, and I'm not adding anything to what's been written before.

I couldn't describe him clearly until just now, for the first time ever, when I realized, describing him to Emily, that he was like a combination of a witchcraft judge from Salem MA, and the judge from Peter S Beagle's Tamsin that I read last summer. It's only taken me 35 years to put a face to this critic!!! It was actually Stephanie in the comments to the post who described her inner critic, so I owe her a thanks too.

My answer to Emily's inner critic and to my own, is the same: it doesn't matter the audience you create for. If you write - or create anything for that matter, be it a sampler, a work of art, a garden, a song for your band - my daughter's bead necklaces - the important thing is that I, and you, create from the truth - write what the true story is, the real story, paint what we see, create what we know. The audience will come to it, they always find a way to it. Maybe not in our lifetime, but maybe we are creating something for the future. You, and I, can't know, until we have finished it, what we are even doing.

I know I would rather be writing than almost anything else in the world, so I also know that I have to put my inner critic, fearsome as this judge is, in his corner and tell him to shut up.

So thank you Em, for a most inspirational post!

I have to also admit that the clearest image I have for the 'real story' is from Stephen King's On Writing, because he describes the storyteller's job as uncovering the bones of the story. I like this image of passing the brush over the bones, slowly uncovering the story in the dirt of our words, until we have written and rewritten the story until it shines clearly in the full light. That's how I write, too.

And tell me, dear reader, do you have an inner critic who stops you from creating your dreams? Is there a work of art, or some project, you have been longing to do, but keep putting off?

7 comments:

Gavin said...

Susan - Thank you (and Emily) for a wonderful post. You have pictured your "inner critic" perfectly. Mine has a different voice, a different character, but is always there, somewhere. Most of the time when I hear that voice I can tell it to be silent, that it does not control me.

The hardest thing for me is to start, to make time for writing, to not be distracted by the zillion things I feel have to get done. Thanks again for a great post.

Frances said...

Think that my inner critic could stand to be more vocal actually. Too mild mannered. Everything is what it is and that is OK. But I appreciate your occasional frustration.

Stephen King's On Writing is one of my favorite books. Picking it up on a recommendation, I never dreamed the ways it would inform my writing.

Happy reading!

DesLily said...

as you stated: the inner critic is everywhere and in everything you do.. it is my curse to be sure!

Susan said...

Gavin: I like how you say 'the zillion things I feel have to get done". I conquer that by saying they will all still be there when I finish my writing for the day!!

Frances: your inner critic isn't critical enough?? I'd like to know what you did to get it so quiet!!!

What are you writing?

Deslily: I know, it's as if the inner critic is the wall or threshold guardian we must pass every time we attempt to do something creative.

Leslie said...

It's funny that you posted this, because my inner critic is keeping me from starting up a story I've been thinking about for a while now.

Thanks for this! :)

Emily Barton said...

Well, you already know all about my inner critic. I'm glad I helped inspire you to put yours in a corner. And I must get around to reading that Stephen King, which I do have on a shelf somewhere. Meanwhile, did I ever suggest Brenda Ueland's If You Want to Write to you? If not, and you haven't read it, it's a brilliant one for anyone who wants to create. I'm willing to say it's the only book one ever need read on the subject.

Susan said...

Leslie: Glad I could help! I think it's common, just not something we always think of talking about, which is why I was so glad Emily's post got me thinking too! I hope you write your story soon!

Emily: Funnily enough, I've read If You Want to Write twice now, and along with Letters to a Young Poet (rilke) and On Writing (King), they are the three books that I would make essential for any new writer coming to writing as a craft. Hmm, I think there might be a post here!!! lol You and I ARE a lot alike. So I really hope we meet one day :-D