Friday, September 18, 2015

Beware the Inner Critic

Lately my Inner Critic has been working overtime. "Why are you writing about that?" he says. "Who cares about this?" "Who told you that you could write?" and on and on it goes.

It's time to remind this meanie that he is supposed to be advising not criticizing, regardless what his name happens to be. But it's hard to "control" the voice once it starts. If you let it and the doubt slip in, then it keeps on coming like our beloved Energizer Bunny.

What do you do to still the Inner Critic? (good question!)

I attended a writer's retreat years ago and the instructor asked us to bring some small object that represented the inner critic. I took one of those rubber dolls whose eyes, ears and tongues still out when you squeeze it's tummy. The first thing we did when we arrived was show off our inner critic to the other workshop members. Next the instructor held out a black garbage bag and we all deposited our critics inside. She tied up the top and stuck it behind the podium for the week. Interestingly enough, the act of giving up our little critics made it easier to not think about them and their nasty little voice. Perhaps it is time to do that again!

You must admit, though the Inner Critic gets a bad rap. It can be a valuable tool once we get that first draft done. We can employ the noisy little bugger to help us revise and edit away the "little darlings" that really don't propel the story forward.

It helps to keep us humble. If I've learned nothing else in this industry, it is that no one is an "expert." Sharing our valuable experiences with each other is important, but we each follow our own path. There is no secret formula. There IS, however, a lot of hard work and spilling of our blood upon the page. We have to love what we do to succeed. And it shows in our stories.

So, the next time my Inner Critic growls in my ear I'm sending him on vacation so I can get some writing done. How about you?


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Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bonnie,

I tend to be a perfectionist about my own writing. So the Inner Critic often works overtime. However, like you, I realize that the important thing is to get that first draft written and tune out the critic. First, I'm the writer letting my imagination create into words the ideas flowing through my brain. Much later, I become the critical editor demanding changes in language and rewrites.

Bonnie Tharp said...

Agreed. We need to compartmentalize the noisy fellow until his input really makes a difference and not let it derail our creativity. Thanks for the comment!