An Inside Look at “Writer’s Angst and Block”

I belong to a bi-monthly critique group. We kick off the meeting by writing for ten minutes from a suggested writing prompt, then we read the snippets aloud.

Usually I enjoy this part of the meeting, but lately I’ve battled “Writer’s Angst” and its close relative “Writer’s Block” so this what happened when I was given the prompt of “The water was heated, the tea was brewed.”

The water was heated, the tea was brewed, but Sara..

Wait a minute. Nope, can’t use that phrase. I need to practice using active verbs and phrases. Ok, try this instead…

The piercing whistle of the tea kettle filled the air, but Sara ignored its piercing cry.

No good. Piercing repeated twice. Ok, easy enough fix. Cut it from whistle and leave it in front of cry.

The whistle of the tea kettle filled the air, but Sara ignored its piercing cry.

Ugh. Still bad. The order of the words makes it flow weird and makes for horrific grammar. Needs rearranging, but I’m running out of time so I’ll just go with it. Now, how am I going to fit in the writing prompt phrase? It’s definitely passive, which I’ve seen waaaay too much lately in my own work so I don’t want to do it here too. Maybe if I–

“Five more minutes left.”

Crap. Ok, easy fix–just activate the sentence.

The heated water beckoned Sara.

No, no, no–water can’t beckon a person. Great, Christie (writing group member sitting across the table from me who just announced her grand prize win in a prominent literary magazine) just turned a page to add more to her work.

“One minute left.”

And that, my writing friends, was all I got done. But, at least it made for a good blog post :).


8 thoughts on “An Inside Look at “Writer’s Angst and Block”

  1. Interesting way to start your group. I usually say, the best way to fight writer’s block is to work on something else for a while. Not good for you in this situation.

    What I did like is the order of events, catching each error as it was made, duplicate word, passive verbs, wrong metaphor …

    Therefore, with or without the requisite passage, this was a successful exercise as it reinforced your ability to self edit. A skill we can only master after thousands of silly errors.

    Brava for you, Christi 🙂

  2. Ramblings,
    Sometimes I get annoyed with the time taken to do the prompt then have every member of the group read their work aloud. Seems like it takes forever when I’ve got stuff to be critiqued. But, sometimes it’s fun and I usually learn something from each one 🙂


    PS. Not sure what you mean by where is the picture?

  3. I’m not sure what your ten minute exercise is intended to accomplish. Free writing is supposed to encourage creative thoughts but when we attempt to perfect the sentences as we write, we defeat that purpose. I’m a big supporter of “write it first; correct it later.” I came across a good quote yesterday:
    “Part of being a writer, particularly an aspiring one, is studying craft, but all those rules and tips can become like shackles. It can create timid writers. Ones who are afraid to make giant awkward splashes and instead write safe, neat sentences that may conform to guidelines but are often uninspired. There is a time for rules in writing, but one should only cage the beast after it has been let free to run and wrestle and tumble in the mud until it is exhausted and ready to collapse, willingly, inside the cage. [Rebecca Hargreaves]

  4. Carol,
    I was trying to not use passive voice during my writing time, then got overwhelmed by everything I saw I was doing wrong.

    And with that, I’m using the quote you gave as my Friday quote because it just opened my eyes to the reason behind my timid writing lately!

    Fantastic comment!

  5. Pingback: Writing Quote Friday « Christi Corbett's Blog

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