This line is from Jane Anne Staw, Ph.D in her excellent book, Unstuck: a supportive and practical guide to working through writer’s block.
In a support group for bipolar and depressive friends I notice how frequently people worsen their depression by treating themselves poorly. Last night I challenged everyone to do something kind of themselves this week.
The same goes for blocked writers. Treating ourselves kindly is the last thing we feel like doing when we’re blocked. But strongly agree with Staw that self-kindness is critical to writing. She also suggests that we listen to those voices and find out who originally gave us those messages. And finally, she suggests we argue back.
In my therapy work and in meditation, I am beginning to understand that my parents felt frustrated and trapped by their own lives and they lashed out at their children, partly at least, because they had no friends. They also mistreated their employees. My father was curt and sarcastic and my mother fired people for no reason. So it is easy to see how they cheated their children.
My father, a college drop out even though he went to an exclusive private high school and his college was free, he still dropped out and never returned. He lorded his smattering of Latin over us, and that he had read Shakespeare. When I raved about Romeo and Juliet when I read it at 13 yrs, he was not pleased. He also trashed my writing so after the age of 15, he saw absolutely nothing I wrote. My mother, also angry that she did not go to college, was over-rigid when correcting my papers. She too saw very little of my writing.
So I am beginning to understand that their criticisms were severe because their hatred of themselves and their lack of empathy of anyone else. They did not read good literature, and as a matter of fact, my father prided himself on never reading a whole book. My mother read murder mysteries. Their knowledge of good writing was near zero.
I need to eviscerate these criticisms in order to write freely. I am starting to spend more time on the novel so I think this is working.