Stuck/unstuck: Monica Bhide on creative paralysis and how to start and keep writing
Monica Bhide is an engineer turned food/travel/parenting and—most recently–fiction writer based out of Washington DC. She’s the author of “The Spice is Right: Easy Indian Cooking for Today”; “The Everything India Cookbook;” and “Modern Spice” and writes the Cooking Channel’s “A Year of Lucky Foods column.” Her first collection of short stories is THE DEVIL IS IN US. Here she reflects on creative paralysis and how to move (write) again.
I asked Monica this question: Do you judge your work before it’s finished? I guess a better question is how do you keep from passing too much judgment on your work in order to keep moving forward. Monica wrote:
I wish I had a good response to this question. It is so hard to do. I have gone from being totally paralyzed about publishing a work to putting something out there that was not quite ready … all because I was passing judgment on the quality of my own work. I have finally found a partial solution. Whenever I complete an essay, an article, or a blog post, I let it sit for a while. I edit it once or twice and then give it to some trusted beta-readers to read. Their feedback always guides me and I no longer have to work on judging my own stuff.
However, with a book it is different since it takes a lot of time commitment. I have to keep the focus and keep writing and not worrying about whether the book is good enough or not. Each morning, I have a ritual. I read something inspiring, I listen to something inspiring and I go from there to writing. If I don’t do this, I sit and fret about what I wrote yesterday and whether or not it is good enough, and worry about who will read it. The positive rituals always give me great energy to keep moving forward. I have just finished the second draft of my second novel. Now, it is off to the beta readers so I don’t sit here and fret about it. I am going to start work on the next book instead.