How do you overcome writer’s block?
The key isn’t to force your writing. If you find yourself staring at a blank page, walk away and come back. Find inspiration in the world around you. Read a book. Take a walk. Call someone on the phone. You may not find inspiration from a blank page. If you force your writing, it’s not going to come out the way you want to. You have to let a piece write itself.
Most of the time, when I write, I have no idea what I’m going to say. I just start typing and the words just come to me as I go. That’s where my best writing comes from. And if I can’t get the words to come, then I take a break, because I don’t want to say what comes from my head. I want to write what comes from my heart.
What are ways that you can stop yourself from being your own worst critic?
You can’t. You are always going to be your own worst critic. That being said, you need to accept that and to learn how to write despite that. I came across someone in a poetry workshop today who hated his poem before he even started writing it. Because he went into it with that attitude, he decided the poem wasn’t going to be good enough. He assumed everyone in the workshop would only say negative things. I gave him the advice not to doom his poem before it was finished.
We’re all guilty of quitting a piece because we don’t think it’s good enough. We’re all guilty of saying, “No one wants to read this.” Several years ago, that was my life motto. I never wanted to finish anything because I would ask myself, “What’s the point?”
You don’t have to write to please people. You need to write because you want to. You need to feel that writing with everything you have. But most importantly, you need to keep the voice in your head away from your work. Let the words write themselves. Don’t listen to the voice in your head because it’s wrong. It’s going to bug you nonstop until you quit writing, and you can’t let it do that. Your writing is worth something when you place your heart in it, not your head.
You also need to believe in your work and believe in yourself. That’s the part I had the most difficult time with. I didn’t believe in my writing for a long time, and it’s why I didn’t think anyone else could believe in it either. It wasn’t until I started sharing my writing with others, because I believed in it, that others started believing in it too. Even now, I sometimes doubt the things I write, but I do it anyway. Every piece of writing needs work. Nothing is ever perfect. But with the dedication and the belief that we can accomplish something, we can.
There is no way to stop being your own worst critic. But there is a way to stop writing with your head and start writing with your heart. Don’t stop. Don’t think. Don’t worry. Just write until you’ve created something.