I recently took a Westport Writers' Workshop seminar titled "Silencing the Inner Critic." That experience, along with seeing Joyce Carol Oates at a lecture the other night, propelled me to pick up my novel again. I'm back to being carried along by the creative process. (Knock on wood.)
The format of the first part of the class was deceptively simple. Jessica, the teacher, had us brainstorm a long list of things that were blocking us from writing. Then, one by one, she deftly swept away each of our lingering fears and arguments. ("Not good enough, you say? First drafts aren't supposed to be good enough. You're not supposed to be good enough when you begin. Writing is a craft; there are skills to learn.")
Regarding the creative process, Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours, says, "I've come to believe that the inspiration is always there, like an electrical current, and what varies is our access to it. And I've found that the best way to cope with that is with diligence, with a kind of daily determination."
Not exactly so, says Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love. "As for discipline--it's important but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness."
From my experience, both of these authors are right.
Those are my issues, but perhaps not yours. So this week, if you're blocked in any way, do Jessica's exercise on your own. Make a list of all the demons that are coming between you and your most treasured goal. Then writing in a journal, or even just on a piece of paper, pretend that you're your biggest champion--the person who most believes in you and wants you to succeed. From that person's perspective, knock down each one of your roadblocks.