Life, Writing Process

The Internal Critic

I’m taking a course by Caroline Donahue called “Write Free.” The first week was about the creative self and this past week was all about getting to know our internal critic. Yup, that’s right. The little voice that tells you you’re doing it all wrong. We’re meant to characterize this voice, give it a face in order to…face it.

Mine is being quite tricky, but here’s how I’m identifying it so far:

A middle-aged man who looks suspiciously like the dad from That’s 70’s Show, that keeps saying the following things:

  • “Are you qualified to do this?”
  • “Is this a financially wise hobby? You can’t get anything out of this.”
  • “If you f**k this up, you should just quit.”
  • “You’ll never make enough money to make a living writing this stuff.”
  • “Don’t you have better things to do with your time?”

However, there’s another voice in there that just kind of keeps going “OH MY GOD THIS IS SO BORING! CAN’T WE DO SOMETHING ELSE PLEASE! LIKE LITERALLY ANYTHING. DISHES WOULD BE BETTER.” So, I’m not sure what’s going on there. I’ll have to keep waiting to see what that one is about.

There’s been a lot of talk in this course about creating a writing routine that balances distracting the critical self with treating the creative self. Since my creative self is that 10-year-old writer who used to pass notebooks with friends between classes, I talked with a friend this weekend and discovered that we actually share a lot of the same creative treats. Fancy notebooks, chatting with each other about our ideas, and of course using the colored pens to write in the margins.

To distract my critical self I’m not too sure. In the realm of the “Four Tendencies” philosophies I’m considered a “Rebel” which means that I don’t like being told what to do. When I want to write, it goes swimmingly. When I feel like I HAVE to write, I get stuck. I WANT to write this book, but on a particular day I might not want to do the work involved. I feel like this is a complex puzzle that is highly unnecessary.

Hence, why I am taking this course. I’m so close to finishing this project, and yet when I sit down to write I’m so tired and that critic comes screaming in with the “This is boring. I have so much else I need to do.” blah blah blah.

My routine worked for drafting, pushing through the chaos, but now I’m losing steam.

And my rebel self is not okay with that.

Do you have an internal critic? What does yours say when you try to be creative?

Happy Writing!


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