Writer’s Block and Self-Criticism

I had a piece that I was going to post today.  I wrote it last week and it was more of a journal entry than fiction, but I was happy enough with it at the time to post it.  When I looked at it a few minutes ago, I hated it.  So I won’t post it.

A few days ago, I went on a wild goose chase through my email to find some of my writing from college – which I’m sure I’ve emailed out at some point – that was lost when my computer was stolen.  I couldn’t find them, although today’s experience looking back at my writing makes me wonder if that wasn’t a good thing.  I hadn’t planned to post them as such, but to use them as a jumping-off point for more writing.  I seem to have come down with quite the case of writer’s block.  As much as people say “write what you know,” I know that if I sat down with that as my goal, I would write autobiographically – and that is neither my interest nor my intent.

I have one idea, but it needs research.  I used to be able to sit down with an idea and a pen and watch the words flow out, but it doesn’t seem to work that way for me anymore.  Maybe I’m just out of practice. Maybe it’s a sign of maturity – I don’t just want to write, I want to get it absolutely right when I do.

Which brings me to my second point – self-criticism, especially as it relates to writing. I am the first person to admit that I expect a lot from myself, and I get frustrated when I fall short.  However, I don’t think that this is appropriate in writing.  Proofreading, yes, but not writing.  Writing should be all about flow; getting the words on to the page is so much more important than making them perfect. Even if I only keep ten percent of what I wrote, the words (and subsequently the ideas) were flowing, and it was a self-perpetuating process.  The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write.