You’re sitting in front of your computer. You’ve removed all distractions. You’re only thinking about writing one page today. Yet still you can’t overcome your writer’s block and get started. What’s wrong?
Close your eyes for a moment, sit back, and ask yourself if you can feel an invisible critic sitting on your shoulder whispering discouraging things in your ear. The imaginary Critic is the writer’s enemy. He’s responsible for more writer’s block than all the real critics in the world combined. He may be a husband, a wife, a lover, a mother, father, sister, brother or even a close friend–anyone whose good opinion you value including yourself because we’re often our own worst critics.
Here are some of the things a Critic says: “What makes you think you can write? You have no talent? Your writing is so bad, it’s embarrassing. People will pity you when they see how awful it is. The reviews, if this mess every gets reviewed, are going to be so nasty you’re going to have to change your name and move to another country. Worse yet, you’re revealing intimate things about your friends and family that they’ll never forgive your for not to mention things about yourself that will make decent people flinch when they hear your name.“
The third secret to overcoming writer’s block is to tell your Critic to shut up. Since he probably won’t, at least not at first, you need to remind yourself that no one ever has to see what you’re writing today. This is a rough draft and all rough drafts are awkward. You can change it, take out the parts that make you uncomfortable, polish and revise for years if you feel like it. Until you show it to someone (and I’ll talk later about the dangers of doing this too soon), it’s more private than a locked diary hidden in a safe. Tell your Critic to take a hike.
Come back soon to The Writer’s Journey Blog for more secrets to overcoming writer’s block and starting your novel.