Three Ways to Deal with Your Inner Critic.
Having a tough time sitting down to write your novel?
Inner editor got you down?
I have three ways of getting around that pesky voice in your head. The first two are relatively easy.
1.) Pretend to be someone else. You are no longer the stay-at-home mom wistfully dreaming of writing that best-selling novel or picture book. Create your own writing persona. You can even change your name.
Use a pen name or a nom de plume like Mark Twain, born Samuel Clemens; or Lemony Snicket, born Daniel Handler.
2.) Write by hand or on an old-fashioned typewriter and give yourself a set amount of pages to write. There’s no delete key. Even if you know you’ve made a mistake, you can’t go back and erase your words. You’re forced to move forward.
3.) Get mad at your inner editor and change how that voice interacts with your conscious mind. But first, you have to admit you have a problematic relationship with your inner editor.
We can do this together.
Hello, I’m Anita, and I have a problem with my inner editor.
He’s perfect. He looks surprisingly like Seneca Crane from the Hunger Games. He’s also a bit judgy. I desperately want to impress him with my witty banter, my rock-solid plot, and my use of enchanting verbiage. But everything I write gets thrown back in my face as a failed attempt. He’s there to remind me of all my insecurities. I’m a terrible speller, my plot has holes, I have no idea where comma’s should go, my participles dangle.
And that’s where it ends. My fingers leave the keyboard. I grab the container of mint chocolate chip ice cream and turn to Netflix for a binge session. After the pint is half empty, I remind myself it doesn’t have to be this way. People do incredible things all the time. Heck, I’ve done things that were hard.
People perform surgery on brains. Others win gold medals in the Olympics. I only want to put words on paper that aren’t boring or lacking commas.
Steven King has written and published more than 60 novels and 200 short stories. Granted, some of his most famous works were written while under the influence. I’m not recommending that as a way to silence your inner editor. There is something freeing about losing your inhibitions, but there has to be another way.
Of course, there is.
According to Christopher Bergland in an article for psychology today, third-person self-talk is the key to improving emotional regulation and self-control by allowing for a little self-distancing and reducing egocentric bias.
I totally want to do that. It doesn’t seem that difficult. Athletes have been doing this for years.
Track and field star Allyson Felix talks to herself during her races. “Let’s get it done,” she says.
Fencer Daryl Homer told Sports Illustrated, “Pre-match, I take time to reassure myself that I’m the best, I’m the greatest, make sure I’m staying in the moment. [I] listen to some Mike Tyson pump-up videos and then try to just have fun and just get ready for the tournament.”
Let’s not forget the great Muhammad Ali, “Keep dancing.” “Stick it.” “Tire him out.” “Fly like a butterfly. Sting like a bee.”
I’ve got this.
Don’t I, Seneca-look-alike-voice in my head?
I can feel that icy stare and see you stroking that perfectly trimmed beard. Part of me secretly wants you to eat those poison berries.
What if you can be my best friend, my biggest supporter, that third-person voice in my head? We can turn this whole situation around.
Come on critic, talk to me.
“Anita,” he says while he strokes his chiseled beard with his manicured fingers. “You’ve got this. Your plot is shockingly perfect and yet surprising. Your witty dialogue is sublime. And the banter? Ooh-la-la, top-notch. And your butt does not look big in those yoga pants you’ve been wearing all week.”
Thank you inner editor. You can stay.