Lacy M. Johnson Recommends...

The very worst times in my life have been marked by silence: times when I wasn’t allowed to write, or couldn’t write, or when language completely failed me. I didn’t write a word, beyond e-mails or Facebook status updates, for nearly two years after I finished graduate school.

After I had finished each of my two books, I spent at least six months casting around, writing nothing new. Each time, what finally got me off the block was digging for its root: It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t think of anything new to say, it was that I believed what I had thought of wasn’t any good. I realized that when I approached the page, I brought with me a ruthless, internal critic who killed words, lines, and whole essays before giving them a chance to breathe. Now I’m in the practice of writing nearly every day, and it’s because I learned to silence the voice of that ruthless critic, especially when starting something new. I type whatever comes to me, and do so with curiosity, not judgment. If I bring anyone to the page these days, she’s an adventurer, not a critic. She says only one thing: Let’s see where this goes.
Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Other Side (Tin House Books, 2014)  


Thanks for the Inspiration

Greetings Ms. Johnson, I wanted to thank you for the wonderful encouragement I received from reading your paragraph on silence. When you shared that you no longer brought the inner critic to the table, but rather the inner friend who says, "Let's see where this goes," I was at once thrilled and calmed...and I set immediately to writing a poem. It has been a long time since I felt this free in my writing.

I just want to say thanks again for your encouraging words. I will definitely seek out your book.