A different sort of writers block

I am feeling horribly unproductive and unsettled this morning.  Rob and I had a rough weekend in which neither of us got more than four hours of sleep on either Friday and Saturday night and I think it’s fair to say that even after sleeping well last night we are both still a little groggy.

For me this has manifested in being unable to settle to any single task.  I sat down to check my e-mail and read half of one before getting up to make breakfast.  I got the eggs out and whipped them up for scrambled eggs, but went to throw laundry in the wash before I started cooking.  And I sat down at my computer to work on my book, or my blog, only to find myself unable to put a coherent thought together.

I know what’s happening in my book, I know what needs to happen next, I even know how I want to get from point A to point B, but the words just don’t seem to be coming this morning.

No, that’s not entirely true.  I’m writing some really great sentences in my head, but they are neither in order or in any way connected to one another.  I feel like someone took the creative part of my brain and put it through the blender; all the parts are still there and working, but they aren’t working together.

If ever there was a day I wished I drink coffee (or any sort of caffeine) today is that day.  Usually my morning walk with the girls really gets me going, but it wasn’t fully effective this morning.  Maybe a run would help.

On a rather different yet similar subject, I am taking an online writing class with the Gotham Writers Workshop and tomorrow the first chapter of my book will be critiqued by my classmates.  While I have shared my writing with a few people so far, this is the first time it will be read by strangers, or even by people who I have not hand-selected because I respect their opinion and believe I could handle criticism from them without bursting into tears.

(If I haven’t shared anything with you, please don’t be offended.  The only people outside my family who have read anything so far are writers themselves.  If you’re interested in being a reader for me though, just comment or e-mail.)

There are very strict rules for group critiques: 2 constructive positive comments then 2 constructive negative comments, both sorts supported by examples and logic.  Despite the rules, I’m nervous.  There are fifteen people in this class, excluding myself but adding the teacher, so that’s 30 positive comments and 30 negative comments.  I’ll admit to being rather fragile where my writing is concerned – I don’t have the experience or the distance to handle criticism well yet.

Externally I hope I handle it fine, but I must admit there’s a little part inside of me that eats at my soul when someone finds fault with my work.  Even if their negative comments are along the lines of “you should use lay instead of lie.”

I suppose that comes from finally admitting, out loud, to myself and to the world that I want to write.  I want to create something and give it away, and I’d like for it to find wings and fly.  Criticism happens, and certainly at this stage can only make the final product better, but in a way this book feels like my child.  It has come from me, is entirely dependent upon me for life, and once I release it into the world is entirely beyond my control.

This desire to create brings me joy.  The desire to share makes me vulnerable.

Tomorrow will be my first taste of public scrutiny, I can only hope I am up to the challenge.

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One Response to A different sort of writers block

  1. I know exactly how you feel about criticism of your work (and about writer’s block, for that matter). I took a creative writing class in college and each week we had to subject our work–our babies–to group critiques. I hated it. I had panic attacks every week. Like you, I don’t take criticism of my writing well at all and yet I am my own worst critic. When someone criticizes my work–no matter how constructive the criticism–I always take it to heart and feel that I’m a failed writer.

    My advice to you is to take a deep breath and don’t take their criticism personally. Try to learn from their remarks. But yet I know that I would not take my own advice in this matter.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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