Monday, September 8, 2014

Taming the Inner Critic


 It's the hardest part about being a writer, isn't it?

Life, in general, really.

If life and enough outer critics like (agents, editors, publishers, uncle Sal, etc,) aren't enough, our inner critic is more unpleasant than any of them.

What is your inner critic? It's that little voice in your head or that tight feeling in your throat or stomach, that seems intent on convincing you that what you're writing couldn't possibly succeed or that you're possibly a fraud who's going to be found out any second.

When you're manuscript is rejected, it could be for any number of reasons:

  • it could be too similar to another project they're working on
  • the company could be having financial problems
  • there just isn't a good match

Rejections are just someone's opinion. Don't let them get you down. Many of our most famous authors have been rejected. Ask Stephen King about his rejection for Carrie. I believe it read something like this, "We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell." Uh huh. And, who got the big bucks for selling the book and the movie rights and the TV and ...?

It's pretty easy to ignore all those outer critics. I know it's more difficult to ignore the inner critic. That's what we're about to do here. We're going to tame that Inner Critic.

The Inner Critic or that Inner Voice judges everything, doesn't it? It takes on many forms: self doubt, excuses, and fear.

We're going to knock that ol' Inner Critic for a loop.

First, Identify Your Inner Critic
The inner critic takes on many forms: a remembered voice, a visualization of failure, a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, and so on. Think about the form it takes for you. If you're not sure, think about a writing related task and then identify the feeling you get when you feel the inner critic coming upon you.

Decide What You Want
Sure, you'd like to get rid of the inner critic, right? However, don't move so fast. That critic does work in a positive way as well. It helps you make an initial decision and then gives you useful, constructive feedback as you proceed. Unfortunately, most inner critics continue to judge and keep criticizing or questioning your decisions.

So, form a statement describing the relationship you want with your inner critic. At this point, you may want to change the name from "inner critic" to "inner guide" to help you start thinking in a different way. For example, your statement might be, "I want my inner guide to be a friendly, constructive source of positive as well as negative feedback." Think about what it would be like if your inner guide acted in such a way.

Bring it into View
Imagine where your inner critic is located. Your head? Your heart? Your stomach? Your shoulder? Wherever it is, bring it into view or focus by picturing it going from its usual position to a few feet in front of you. Adjust the distance until it's comfortable for you. What does your inner critic look like?Don't worry if you don't get an image right away, that's okay. Take a deep breath, let it out, and let your imagination loose. Don't dismiss any images.

Does perceiving your inner critic in this way affect how you feel about it? Are you aware of any new aspects than you were before? Does it seem to have less power than it did before you imagined it with a true image?

Find the Good Intention
Most inner critics have a positive intention. It's usually trying to save you from criticism or disappointment. Do you know what your inner critic is trying to do for you?

Find an Alternative
What can you do to more appropriately attain that positive intention? Do you have a trusted friend who can look over your manuscript before submitting it?

When your inner critic expresses itself, how does it make you feel? Do you relate to it as if you were a child relating to a stern adult? If so, consciously look at your inner critic and listen as the adult you are. Does that change have any affect on you?

You can adjust changing the image or the sound of your inner critic.

Reform and Practice
After some practice and experimenting, you may decide you like a particular form for your inner critic (inner guide).  They've settled in to becoming a helpful partner rather than a hinderance.

If your inner critic ever reverts back to its old self, you can always do a 30 second review of what we've learned here to reformat your inner guide and have it back to speeding your progress rather than holding you back.

Did this help with taming your Inner Critic?

Your Writing Coach by Jurgen Wolff

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