Thursday, September 26, 2019

Kill your inner critic

The Inner Critic is that voice in your head that tells you something is worthy of appraisal or not.
Everyone has one; it just seems that writers tend to be the most tortured by this voice.

If we are not careful, that nasty little voice in our heads will become judge, jury, and executioner to our work. If we allow it that critic can shut a story down and keep us from submitting our work. By listening to that voice in our head saying things such as: “That’s not really good enough to send out.” “No one is going to want to read that.” “You’re no Stephen King, baby. Or we leave a manuscript unfinished because that voice convinced us it wasn’t what readers wanted.

When that voice begins to niggle… stuff a sock in it. Tell that inner critic to pack his/her bags and get on the next bus out of town. Put him/her in a bag and toss him in the river. Whatever it takes to silence that voice. 

Turning it off takes practice. Some ways to shut that thing up are:

-Turn up the music, if you listen to music when you write.

- Find three things you like about the piece you are working on. Even if you don't like the story there is something about the writing you like. A phrase, a certain word, line of dialog, the way you described something. Learn to see the positives in your work not just the mistakes.

-Remember what Hemingway said. "The first draft of anything is shit"

-Take a deep breath and know that with every page your skill and talent gets sharper. 

Writers have to stuff that voice down and get the job done. Tell those stories that are aching to be told. Just as we would with a rejection letter or a bad review, we write another page.  Write another and another until your work finds a home to adopt it. 

Don't allow those inner voices to stop you. Instead turn them into a tool. If your inner critic is harping on a certain thing often. Maybe you need to look at that sentence, word, or punctuation a bit closer. That doesn't mean you've done something wrong, but you might be able to make a piece more concise and improve it.

The inner critic will come back after a while, but, that doesn’t mean you have to let it beat you down. What does a voice in your head know anyways? When I was three he told me dirt might taste good… yeah what does he know.