I have been stymied in my writing for some time now, and I realized recently that constantly chastising myself for being lazy and undisciplined, beating myself for not being more productive, and downright, well, disliking myself enormously for being such a slacker, was actually more damaging than helpful. Duh.
I come from a background that included a religion that is very big on guilt. GUILT. In caps. So when I don't do what that nagging little voice in me says I should be doing, I feel GUILT rolling down on top of me in granite boulder form. Or building up inside of me in energy-draining, soul-sucking cinderblock form. Or maybe even just a quick little stabbing pain somewhere in my innards, the old knife-in-the-gut form.. No matter what form it takes, I can't ignore it. And it drives the writer inside me deeper into the cave.
After weeks and weeks of this, I decided to take a break. Not only that, I gave myself permission to do so. In the time that I have not been actively writing, I have cataloged information from my budding series into my own hard copy file (index cards in an index card box: can we say "old school"?), written out summaries of the chapters I've composed so far, and taken time to read a couple of wonderful books that my husband shared with me. Bliss.
I learned that in my desperate drive to get something done and to be all the writer I can be, I somehow lost sight of the fun I used to have doing this. I forgot how much I used to laugh, literally, while I was pecking away at the keyboard, because I couldn't wait to share my stuff with someone else. Sharing stories, I truly believe, is the only way that they can begin to breathe on their own. And they were meant to breathe on their own.
Sigh. So. Negative reviews, self flagellation, and GUILT aside, I am slowly coming back to my starting point and remembering how to integrate the writer back into the rest of me. Sort of like Peter Pan needing to get his shadow back and finding Wendy to sew it onto the soles of his feet. I needed to find my way back to the little kid with the pen and the notebook paper, composing little ghost stories and poems, and having the best time doing it. She would not have been blocked by negative reviews, and she would not have felt guilty about not writing all the time. Why? Well, because she always had a story going somewhere in her head, and she knew she wanted to write it down to share with her friends. And so she would.
Trusting myself to get the writing done and share it with others is probably the true foundation of my writing. And while I'm struggling to relearn that trust, I have also realized - the struggle for that feels much better than bearing the weight of guilt.