My Inner Critic works overtime. She is so effective at her job that sometimes I don’t notice how she is damaging my writing efforts.
I read this post by Josh Irby and it led to deep reflection. This is serious, people. I hate reflecting on stuff that makes me feel stupid, and my Inner Critic tells me I’m an idiot all too often. It’s not her fault; she’s perpetually premenstrual.
I had a close encounter when my Inner Critic wanted to unleash on my family. It all started when my 6-year old ran away from class. His substitute teacher abandoned the other students in order to deal with him. Can you say, Proud Mommy Moment? Well, don’t. It’s not polite to rub it in.
When I got the little darling home, I checked off the usual, useless questions. “Why would you do that? Was that fair to the other kids? How do you think your teacher felt?”
He gave me the well duh face and said, “Bad.”
I fumbled for a more important question. “What are you going to do about it?”
Ah ha! He’s thinking, now.
He tapped his chin and stared at the ceiling. Finally, he looked at me and shrugged. “I’ll give her a banana.”
Friends, I will freely admit that the PMS-crazed Critic inside me wanted to scream, “Wrong answer! Try again!” But I suppressed her so as not to squelch his ideas with my own cynical nature. Through clenched teeth I asked, “Why would you give her a banana?”
He grinned. “Because then I could say, ‘I’m sorry I went bananas in class,’ and it will make her laugh and feel happy.”
Smoking bomb in my brain diffused.
Within minutes, I dropped him off at her doorstep. He handed her a banana and said his line. She laughed and pulled him into a giant hug. That moment gave her an opportunity to set expectations for the next class time, and it helped him feel better about himself and his ability to fix a problem.
Take that, Critic. You would have cremated his brilliance before it had a chance to live. Plus, it would have been a shame to miss that “Proud Mommy Moment”.
You have brilliant ideas. Don’t let fear stop them before they emerge.
What about you? Are you saying “Wrong answer! Try again,” before your ideas are fleshed out? Do you give up on a scene because you think you’ll never be able to write yourself out of the conflict you’ve created? If so, do what it takes to muffle that voice. Play music, ban editing for a week and allow yourself to write crappy drafts – whatever works for you. Me? I imagine a Sumo wrestler sitting on my Critic’s face. Don’t judge.
So, tell your Inner Critic to shut up, and get writing. Don’t forget to check out our writing challenges. I’ve heard from several of you who are working through your first entry. I can’t wait to see those stories roll in.