Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Inner Critic

In preparing for the NaNoWritMo event, I have been reading and researching various tips and suggestions.  In virtually every book or website that I read about the craft of writing - there is always advice given about the "inner critic"  This is the small voice that seems to constantly criticize the writing in the guise of making necessary improvement - when in reality it hinders the flow of creativity.  The inner critic is quite useful for the editing phase of writing, but totally destructive in the imaginative narration of the story.

In reading Mary Carol Moore's blog post this week, I realized that this inner critic is not just present in writers, or artists, or other creative types --- this inner critic is present in anyone who strives for perfection.  Those of us who are attempting to free ourselves from the tyranny of perfectionism (I posted about that topic here) need to learn to silence this inner critic as well.  In our pursuit for excellence, we are stifling the joy of life.

On her blog, Mary Carol Moore suggests an exercise that I think would be useful for me as a person - not just a writer.  I thought I might post it here, in case other perfectionists might like to try it as well:
Write a letter to your Inner Critic. 

Begin your letter to the Inner Critic with gratitude--always a good way to soften any resistance. Yes, you may be fuming at the chains, but start by thanking this part of yourself (for it is) for its never-ending vigilance. 
Then renegotiate your contract. What can you ask for that would give you more freedom?
I do believe that there is something useful in giving credence to this abstract entity.  I think  acknowledging its existence, but admonishing its control, could be a positive step forward in embracing the life that I truly want to live.


  1. Molly, what a wonderful thought.
    Hmmm. Every morning I battle my "inner critic" and win by getting to that keyboard and pounding.

    May God give you the strength to do the same.

  2. What a great idea! That inner critic can be very helpful. Those great grades I always got in school, the positive feedback I get from coworkers and my boss--I can thank my inner critic for pushing me to do things better. My inability to try more of the craft things I'd love to do or the writing--I'm glad for the tip on shutting that inner critic down a bit!

  3. Now I have my inner critic trapped in a box under my writing table. I have locked it over and over again and refuse to let it out until December when I hope to have two first draft done.

  4. Love this idea! That inner critic of mine is very good at showing up unexpectedly, too - she's why I haven't yet started revising the WIP I completed last year!

  5. I believe an inner critic lives in all of us but some of us (me included) have a very loud inner critic. Thank you for writing about your journey as I am sure it is something that many of us can relate to.

  6. Thanks so much for mentioning my blog and my article on the Inner Critic. I'm glad it was helpful to your readers. Enjoyed visiting your blog too--keep up the great work!

  7. Neat idea, though lately I think my own inner critic needs to start screaming again...
    May try this anyway; thank you.
    And best of luck with your NaNoWriMo--you'll do quite well, I'm certain!

  8. I like the idea of locking it up in a box and stashing it somewhere...perhaps I could put it in one of those "safe places" where I sometimes hide things, and then can never find them again. Yeah, that's what I'll do.

    Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Molly.

  9. Very interesting thoughts. I just started working on my novel again after some time away from it. I always have the urge to chuck what I've written and start over. It's so hard. Good luck with NaNoWriMo.

  10. Now I have my inner critic trapped in a box under my writing table. I have locked it over and over again and refuse to let it out until December when I hope to have two first draft done.


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