Friday, March 11, 2011

Fighting the Inner Censor

Sometimes you wake up ready and willing to do a good stretch of writing that will really advance your project (an article, a dissertation, a book, etc.) You turn on the computer, open your file, and realize that today is the day when the writer's block decided to make an appearance in your life. It sits there, tugging at you from the inside, and whispering, "You are going to write something really silly and make a fool out of yourself."

People experience the writer's block for a variety of reasons. For me, it has always been a fear of writing something so unintelligent that people would think me an idiot. The fear is always so paralyzing that I can't even bring myself to put my fingers on the keyboard. So I discovered a way of dealing with my inner censor who keeps droning into my ear, telling me how my writing is horrible. I cheat the inner censor by pretending that I'm not writing for publication. "Of course, nobody will see this," I keep saying (often aloud) as I begin to write. "I'm just doing this for my own personal enjoyment. Nobody will ever see what I write today." The inner censor is tenacious but stupid. It always believes that I'm not writing for publication and eventually leaves me in peace.

5 comments:

profacero said...

I figured out some time ago that one element in it for me was committing to write something I didn't really believe in. I had trouble with two papers in graduate school for that reason - we were on quarters so you had to really pick your topic fast if you were to finish; I picked topics that didn't work and didn't allow myself to change because that would have been impractical.

I've had that issue since sometimes but there's also something else I've only recently come to grips with: there is so much advice about not dawdling that I don't give myself enough time. In fact I am a good estimator of time needed to do something, and if I allow myself to respect my own judgment on this, then I relax out of block.

There's also gut instinct and sticking to guns. I've gotten blocks trying to do revisions my heart wasn't in.

Essentially, the theme of every bad decision I've ever made is the same: if I know what I think is right or what's right for me, and don't follow it because it's unconventional or something like that, or might worry someone, then I run into block.

Clarissa said...

I think you are lucky in that your inner censor seems to be ultimately working for your benefit. My inner censor is a scary internal force. I even know her name. It's a female. I mean, it's an actual person I've had a misfortune to meet and who now inhabits my inner world.

profacero said...

That's an interesting way to think about it & maybe one I can grab onto and use in a good way somehow. I didn't realize I was this advanced. Maybe I secretly am.

There are two characters in the blog, which are collective, and which are my inner censors. Those who say I cannot do this, should not, must or I will die, and yet am hurting others by doing it.

My mother wanted me in art or music school as preparation for marriage, not in college. My father wanted I am not sure what, but was very angry at everything I was interested in and said it was impossible. My dissertation director said I could never do well because I was blond and liked swimming. Etc. I still feel that these people and more are sitting on my shoulders yelling at me. I don't spend more time working than I do because listening to them, having to work through the din, is so exhausting!!!

I am hoping to truly defeat these monsters.

Clarissa said...

"My mother wanted me in art or music school as preparation for marriage, not in college."

-Welcome to the club. :-)

"My dissertation director said I could never do well"

-Welcome to the club as well.

" I still feel that these people and more are sitting on my shoulders yelling at me. I don't spend more time working than I do because listening to them, having to work through the din, is so exhausting!!!"

-That's EXACTLY how I feel.

profacero said...

OK so we'll have to have solidarity and vencer these demonios!!!