Do you ever start to write something, but find yourself held back by your own limitations? If you do, then what do you do to move past these?
For example, at an early point in my current work, a psychologist plays a pivotal role. I spent weeks trying to write his character without success. No matter how hard I tried, or how many different ways I tried to write his scenes, everything came across as flat, one-dimensional, and amatuerish. Eventually, in desperation to try to find the right kind of voice and attitude for my character, I turned to a book on clinical psychology techniques and approaches.
At first, the book seemed to confirm all my notions of what was wrong with psychology—the author seemed like an over-confident narcissist who viewed himself as more clever, more talented, more worthwhile than the people he treated; I became disheartened, thinking that there was nothing I could learn from the book, and lamented my wasted investment.
Something kept me reading, though, and as I continued to read on, I began to see a different kind of person. I could tell that the author really cared about his patients, and was often as frustrated by the limitations of his technique and his profession as any of them were, and often much moreso. He was self-confident at times, it was true, but at others he could be quite self-critical. And, though I have no ambitions to enter into psychology, I found that many of his suggestions were clever, and could have useful applications even in my everyday life.
When I went back to re-read the earlier sections, I was surprised to find no trace of the negative stereotypical attributes I had at first attributed to the author.
Somehow, I had superimposed them onto his words, creating things that had never been there. I had taken my own biases against authority figures in general, and therapist types in particular, and allowed those prejudices to completely overshadow my reading. The worst part about it was that I hadn't even realized I was doing it. I went back to my earlier writing, and saw I had done the very same thing in my writing. The reason my words seemed one-dimensional is because that's just what they were—I had super-imposed everything I hated about therapists and crammed them inside my written character until everything he said or did felt stiff, caricatured, and unnatural.
With this realization, I feel I can make the necessary changes and move forward in my tale. The experience has made me wonder, though, how many of my other personal defects inhibit my ability to express myself sincerely as a writer, and how I can deal with these, especially when I can't even see them!
Does anyone have any suggestions about how to overcome our own limitations in our writing?