Surviving The Gauntlet

P.G. Barnett
4 min readApr 19, 2019

Most times it’s not how fast you run.

Matt Light Foundation

As a writer (yeah, I call myself that these days) my creative process has started to adopt a strange pattern of ebbs and flows. There are days I’m on fire. Story ideas fill my brain to overflowing. I furiously capture them in a notebook for fear of forgetting them. Recently, I’ve had days when I crank out two, three, sometimes four pieces a day. Times when I’ve hammered out six to seven thousand words inside an eight hour period.

Times when “prolific” is my middle name.

Then all of a sudden, I’m staring at a blank page and the only thing tickling my synapses is the sound of crickets.

These are the times I’m traveling through the gauntlet.

The mental, self-flagellation I put myself through when I struggle with my writing is just as torturous as walking a physical gauntlet.

In olden days the Royal Navy had a rather nasty form of corporal punishment known as walking the gauntlet. An offender of a minor offense was stripped at the waist and forced to walk along a channel formed by his fellow sailors as they whipped the man with knittles — long cords of leather and rope knotted at the end.

If that’s not bad enough, the offender wasn’t allowed to make a mad dash to the end of the gauntlet. Forcing him to walk slowly, a subaltern or junior officer led the way through the gauntlet with a saber tip pointed at the offender’s chest. The woeful recipient of the beating couldn’t turn and flee in the opposite direction either because another officer was tagging along behind with a saber aimed at his back.

Can’t run back, can’t run forward, can’t run. You have to walk and take the beating and hope you make it out alive.

This pretty much describes my days when I’m ebbing instead of flowing.

Somehow, and for reasons known only to people much smarter than me, I start beating the shit out of myself when I struggle with my writing. I’m either not smart enough, not prolific enough, not talented enough or about as fake as one could possible be.

You see, dropping to your knees is never a good thing. At



P.G. Barnett

A published author enjoying married Texas bliss. Dog person living with cats. A writer of Henry James' stories. Featured In MuckRack. Top Writer In Fiction.