Posted by Kathleen Pooler/@kathypooler
“Sometimes the best helping hand you get is a good, firm push” Joann Thomas
I sat in author, June Gould’s workshop at the recent International Women’s Writing Guild Conference holding back reading the story I had just written, letting my inner critic, Gertrude, get her way. I was thinking what I had written was not as good as everyone else’s. I had made myself a promise to read in most every workshop but at that moment I held back. When I read the piece a few weeks later, I realized that it was fine and I really could have read it. So I decided to send my inner critic packing:
“You know, I’m sitting here minding my own business.” I said, annoyed.
“It’s my business too.” She sneered.
“You are not invited into my writer’s world. Go, just go away,” I said as I waved my hand.
““I will not. I have a right to be here. I have a job to do.” She answered.
“I really don’t have the time to give you any more attention. I also have a job to do.”
” Oh, I love it when you get flustered. Makes my job so much easier,” she snickered as she rubbed her hands together.
“ Job? What job?”
“To distract you from your writing, to get you so frustrated, you want to ditch the whole idea of writing your memoir, even though you have worked steadily on it for over a year.” She began.
I could tell she was getting cranked up.
“I love it when you question or doubt yourself,” she continued, “I especially love it when you feel you don’t measure up to others. Everytime you back away from promoting yourself, I revel in it.”
Then she struck her final blow,
“Every time you compare yourself to anyone else in a way that prevents you from believing in yourself and in moving forward, it is a feather in my cap.My work is complete. My mission is to thwart your passion, your progress toward your memoir. After all,
“Who are you to think anyone else would care about your life?
Your story isn’t nearly as interesting or exciting as others.
What makes you think you can get anything published? Your writing is trite,syrupy and boring.”
I stared directly into her beady, lifeless eyes. She was like a gnat encircling me. For all the bluster, she was really quite small. She started to blink and shrink as my stare persisted.
Then I blew her away like a candle on a birthday cake.
Poof, she was gone.
I know she’ll come back from time to time as it all seems to be part of the writing process. But, maybe, in some strange way, she may help me to become a better writer. Maybe I can learn something from the nagging, like how to develop a tough skin or how to critique my own writing effectively.
Raymond Obstfeld lists “The 10 Commandments of Fiction Writing” (applies to non-fiction as well), in this recent Writer’s Digest article which offered a new twist on one’s inner critic. The 7th commandment is:
” Be critical of your work and embrace your inner critic”
Now that I know I can banish my inner critic from taking over, maybe I can concentrate on critiquing my work in a constructive and useful way and even embrace the little pest.
How about you? How do you handle that pesky inner critic in your writing or in your life?
I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below~