[student name redacted],
Sounds like you could use a good walk. Do something completely mindless for a little while, maybe fifteen minutes. It will be good for you. To respond to your comments:
1. My mentor
in college referred to this voice as “the crow.” “The crow” is far worse than the simple “inner critic.” The crow is effing relentless and represents every single authority figure and power structure that has ever made you feel small. You need to obliterate that crow because it is completely full of shit and is out to undermine your work. It is always, *always* wrong and exists only to frighten you away from your emotional material. The crow doesn’t come from a terrible place. It comes from the place that wants you to be socially safe, and thus tells you “you better not go there. That place is dangerous.”
2. You don’t have to go anywhere you don’t want to. Just keep your eye on the prize, which *is* going there. Sometimes it takes awhile to get there. Do not put pressure on yourself or judge your progress. Just do the best you can. If you can bring yourself to *try to want* to go there, you’ll really be in business. Once you want to, you can do anything you want. I mean that. *Anything* What power!
3. If you’re trying to write something perfect you’re going to fail every single time. Just write to write. You have to permit yourself to write badly. For every 10 attempts if you get one solid, polished poem, you’re doing well. Here’s an essay
on shitty first drafts by Anne Lammott. If the link doesn’t work just google “shitty first drafts anne lamott” you’ll find it. Look back to Osho in week 1. Perfectionism is an express route to silence.
4a. Writing can be fragmentary. If you need to write in fragments, write in fragments.
4b. It takes one spark to light a fire.
4c. If the kindling is wet you use lighter fluid. If you have no lighter fluid, see if you can dry out one twig with your hands and clothes. Then two.
The best thing you can do for yourself right now is be kind. Be kind to you. Be kind to the writer inside you who *needs* to do this work. Don’t ever compare your work to others. Keep in mind that you, me, we are all students of this craft. We don’t just magically make good poems. This is work. Good, necesary work, but work. Talent is cheap. Maybe 10%. If you want to write great poems, you just need to love poetry with all your heart and work your butt off. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Stay strong. This is an important time for you and your work. Let me know if I can elaborate on any of these points.