Pages

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Muse versus Inner Critic


Muse versus Inner Critic
by B.D. Tharp

I believe that every author has a “muse” (a source of inspiration and an “inner critic” (one who expresses judgments of merit or faults with regard to artistic or literary work). We are generally our own worst critic and doubt our abilities or declare ourselves incapable of creating something worthwhile. (Confidence, why do you elude us?) We also can inspire ourselves as well as others. Both the muse and inner critic serve a valuable purpose, but for them to be effective there must be a balance. (Do I hear dueling banjos?)

During a writer’s retreat I attended years ago our leader said we should each bring something that represented our “inner critic”. When we got to the hotel we were told to put them in a black garbage bag during the workshops until the last day when they would be returned to us. I drew a picture of a Sesame Street monster and he went away for four days and didn’t bug me. It was a great ritual that helped me forget about it for a while. When I’m home I do something similar, by putting it in a drawer – out of sight.


(One of the other writer’s in the group brought one of those squishy stress dolls that you squeeze and it’s eyes and ears pop out from the body. That one was really great.)

Lately, I haven’t felt very inspired. My muse just hasn’t been with the program. So, when I won a Smurf with a laptop for a door prize at the KWA Holiday party yesterday I decided right then that it would be my new muse.


My little blue muse is sitting beside my laptop poised and ready to write, while I am writing. It’s like I’m not so alone right now, I have a little writing buddy with me. Silly, I know, but I’ve found that rituals can mean a lot to a creative person. We have our comfortable chair, the favorite pen, maybe a candle burning, soft instrumental music in the background, whatever helps to put you in the frame of mind you need to escape into your story.


I also have some inspirational sayings on my tack board like: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Another writing buddy finds photos in magazines that look like her characters and she tapes them to her wall beside the computer to keep a clear picture in mind. If you haven’t already, find your inspiration and make it a part of your writing process.


Our neighborhood bookstore closed recently and that was where I used to go every weekend to write. The atmosphere was perfect for getting in touch with a literary muse. Books everywhere, readers of all ages and the lattes were great, too. I miss it SO MUCH, but I’ve asked Santa to bring us another. If the used bookstore across the street would add some tables and chairs, and maybe a coffee bar – that could work! Right now, though I’m searching for a new place. Even JK Rowling wrote at the coffee shop, but our closest one is too small to hang out in for hours at a time.


Tell us about what inspires you to write and what you do to combat an over zealous inner critic.

10 comments:

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

It's a shame that so many bookstores are going out of business--going the way of the post office. But so much communication is via the internet these days. Our local Borders is also gone and there are no other bookstores close by. I have my writing space at home that I am comfortable with and like to write early in the morning when it's very quiet. Okay, now I'm ready to write the next bestseller!

BDTharp said...

I work from home for my day job, so my office has been taken over by that company. I have to get away from it at the end of the day & there's no good place to go write here at home. Much good luck with your new best seller!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, B.D.,

Good luck with finding just the right spot to work in. It is difficult. I start my writing around five in the morning just so no one will bother me and I can totally concentrate. Not possible when you have a day job. I was lucky to be able to take an early retirement.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

P.S. For anyone who might be checking back: the random winner of my novel THE TRUTH SLEUTH (print review copy) is Pauline Jones. I hate it when people announce a contest and then don't tell you the winner. So now you all know. Don't hate her or me! Just saunter down to your local library and borrow THE TRUTH SLEUTH there for free. Same is true of THE INFERNO COLLECTION and THE DROWNING POOL. These two are now available as ebooks as well.
Happy holidays, everyone! New giveaways in the coming year.

Susan Oleksiw said...

We have a small local bookstore, but it's not big enough for a cafe, though it does have a couple of comfortable chairs where people can sit and peruse books. There's a Barnes and Noble at the mall, and they do have a cafe. I don't write in cafes--I'm much too distracted by the other customers who all seem strange enough to be in a story--but I want to support bookstores. My solution is to drink coffee at B&N and buy books at my local bookstore. Good luck on finding another writing spot.

BDTharp said...

Susan, Yes readers are interesting people and I enjoy watching them. You never know who will strike you as the perfect character.

I will carve out a niche somewhere... in the mean time I run over to Panera and hide in a corner when I can.

Maryann Miller said...

It's been a while since I have had to get away from home to write. I have had a home office dedicated to writing for some time. But when I started my career writing a humorous column for a newspaper, I would sometimes take the kids to McDonald's where they could play in the play area and I could write drafts of columns. At home they would be constantly interrupting me, but at the playground they would leave me alone. Of course, there was always that one super-mom who would shoot me dirty looks because I was ignoring my children. LOL

BDTharp said...

Thanks for the comment, Maryann. Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed all the comments, and I work at home too where my daughter and I have our computers in the same room. I like the Smurfs and being surrounded by things humorous or full of good memories: some cruise boat pictures, Simon, Alvin, and Theodore, and as this group has once again proved, the people both readers and writers you meet (even while doing research) are the very best things about wriing. Having someone tell you they enjoyed your book is a day brightener too. Merry Christma, Happy New Year, and may 2012 be good for all of us,
Jackie Griffey

BDTharp said...

Jackie, I wholeheartedly agree - when someone likes your book it's FANTASTIC. Happy Holidays!!