"the writer must give up all theories and be a complete pragmatist. He or she must ask constantly: What am I trying to do? He or she must measure the words against intention and demand how each word, sentence or image contributes to the whole."
However, self-deception is the most powerful and insidious kind and many writers don't have the psychological strength to meet their own deceptions head on. In fact, for many writers, their writing is just another self-deceptive coping mechanism. Why would they want to change that?
Writer/psychotherapist Charles Harper Webb talks about psychological blocks in the October/November 2011 issue of The Writer's Chronicle that I picked up in a waiting room where I'm working at IAIA.
Webb says to succeed a writer must "approve of expressing personal power and powerful emotions...must lower his psychological defenses...cast off modesty and deference....[and] be willing to be harshly criticized." He says this is the "price of power." I think he means poetic power.
He also lists possible "power sources" of a healthy poem:
- Effective technique
- Religious/spiritual overtones
- Seriousness (with room for humor)
- Good stories dramatically told
- Cinematic action-writing
- Willingness to tackle big themes
- Explosive metaphors and imagery
- Healthy sexuality
I'm sure many experimental poets would take issue with many of these (including #13 but possibly #10 too).
What power sources are crucial for you? What self-deceptions hold you back?