Poem: We Are Our Own Worst Critics

An earlier version of this prose poem appeared in my personal journals. This updated version still reflects the struggle between the concept, creation, and completion of a creative work and how we are often biased against ourselves.

We Are Our Own Worst Critics

Some say that writing is hard
Because the scenes that are so vivid
In their mind’s eye
Do not translate so easily to paper
or screen

Instead of the beautiful descriptions
Which draw a mental picture
That will engage a reader
What comes out is “there was a tree”

Or instead of the intriguing plots and witty dialogue
The story seemingly consists of
“They did the thing”

Yet that’s not true
So many writers are too hard on themselves
Angry when their creation does not match their vision
Even when their creation
Is beautiful nonetheless

It’s told that Rodin said of his work
“I choose a block of marble,
and chop off whatever I don’t need”.
Some say writing is like this

Not the pouring out of words unheeded
But the careful editing of ideas
Selecting the best parts to write down
Then sanding and smoothing out the roughness

This school of thought says that, as writers
We should strive to give clarity
Not worry about every detail
Not overload readers with overblown descriptions
Or unnecessary dialogue

There is a balance to be found
Between the bare branches of a single tree
And the impenetrable tangle of a thick forest
Writing is both planting
And pruning

It is worth remembering that imperfection
Can still be stunning
Writers can – should – enjoy the
Carefully tended garden of words
They have brought into being.


Sources/Inspirations include





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