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The Writing Life: Berry Picking

What Your Inner Critic Wants You to Know

Gnome_tedsblog_creepy_584432_hI wrote a guest post for Jessica Baverstock at Creativity's Workshop  on the writer's Inner GPS, our internal guidance system that is never wrong and can help us greatly with our writing.  (You can go read it now, I'll wait.)

And because of that, I started thinking a lot about the Inner Critic, which is the antithesis of the Inner GPS.  And because I was thinking about the Inner Critic, mine (a gnome-like imp named Patrick who is dressed all in green), popped up with a few things to say.  Inner Critics are vocal that way.

Here is what Patrick had to say about what your inner critic wants you to know:

1.  We love to make a lot of noise.  We can't help it, making noise is our nature.  And most often you'd probably think of it as discordant noise.  That's because we're the aggregation of years of the negative messages you've received--the teacher who made red marks all over your paper, your cranky grandma, your alcoholic father who raged at you, your bitter aunt. 

2.  We also like to lie.  We tell you that what you're writing is a stinky, steaming pile of crap when really its a deep lyrical essay.  We say that your house is a mess and your family hates you for it when really they are so, so happy that you are at your desk writing.  We tell you that you are stupid, fat, ugly, no good down to your very soul, when really you are a beautiful, spirited child of the universe.

3.  We can be tamed.  It takes consistent effort, but we can be trained to be quiet.  We don't like it (see #1), but it's the truth.  We can be tamed with this process: acknowledge the negative thought we offer, release it, and replace it with a positive thought.  The thing we actually love about this process is that you really have to do it over and over again and many of you get bored and quit. And then we can run wild and free again.

4.  We accept negotiations.  Maybe you can give us something to do while you're busy writing the first draft and then call us in for the editing rounds?  Perhaps you can send us off to practice yelling and screaming elsewhere until you're ready to do a grammar and spell check?  Think about what how we could help you and then pitch us a deal.  We might just agree.

5.  We are not the boss of you.  We like to make you think we are.  It's so very easy to convince you that such is the case.  A snide comment here, a negative remark there, and before you know it, you've slunk away from your desk before you've even written word one.  The other Inner Critics will probably hate me for this, but here's a little tip: when all else fails, we respond well to war being waged on us.   Stop slinking away, turn and face us and yell, "Shut the f@#$ up, you measly, slimy son of an old shoe!"  And then we'll do exactly that.

What does your Inner Critic want you to know?

Photo by TedsBlog.

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