Straight talk from the sisters about blood, sweat and ink
A Writer’s Ode to Her Inner Critic
In just a few days I’m going to start NaNoWriMo and it’s already making my body feel like I’m throwing myself off a cliff without a parachute. I know intellectually writing 50,000 words in a month is not a life-threatening endeavor. However, it still produces significant amounts of stress and adrenaline! Of course, I’m excited to be starting something new. I like the plot and characters I’ve created to work with, and I know I’m prepared. But I’m also seriously freaked out, because I know I’m about to engage in a 30 day war with my inner critic, and it will not be pretty!
There will be blood spilled–mine.
A bit of innocence lost–mine.
And some stupid and humbling mistakes reviled–also mine.
Whereas Heather has made friends with her internal editor, mine is a nasty bully. I even wrote about her a while back and compared her to a giant Yeti inside my brain. My inner critic has one goal: to reduce me to a quivering mass of Jello. She’s pretty darn good at it. She has convinced me to hide finished projects away that maybe don’t deserve the solitary confinement of trunking. She has talked me into pulling back when I want to be brave and use controversial themes or questionable topics. And she waves every single mistake and writing rejection I’ve earned in my face as proof of my ineptitude.
Worst of all, ever since I signed up to do NaNo, I’ve had the feeling I painted a big red bull’s-eye on my self-confidence and gave my internal editor a gun with unlimited ammo. She’s been shooting and I’ve been running ever since. And NaNo hasn’t even started yet!
But the important thing is I am still running. I’m haven’t stopped writing or given up. Maybe I’m not the writer I want to be, which is what gives my inner critic so much power over my emotions, but I’m working on it. They say rejection kills the dreams of many writers, but I think it’s exhaustion! At some point, anyone can grow tired of running toward goals that never seem to get any closer. I know I’ve gotten tired of running from my inner critic more times then I can count. While I can’t turn off that little voice of self doubt inside my head, I can chose to keep chasing my goals anyway…even with a bloodthirsty internal editor hot on my trail.
I think every writer has a strategy for dealing with their inner critic, and during NaNo I will try just about one of everything to keep pushing through. I will shut off my monitor, and stick double sided tape on my delete key. And mid-month, when things get really bad, I might revert to one of my newest methods of placating my editor: I will draft an epic ode to my inner critic. In that letter I’ll surrender to my editor’s better judgment and own up to my writer suckage 110%. I might even shed a few frustrated tears. There is something cathartic about accepting that I’m never going to be perfect, and by surrendering the hope of perfection, I release massive amounts of negative emotion. When I’m done with my ode, I’ll be ready to fold up my little white surrender flag and live to write other day. Hopefully I’ll be a wiser and braver writer than I was the last time I almost let my inner critic get the best of me.
Come November 1st I plan to leave my inner critic some nasty messages to stay away! I also plan to taunt her when I cross the finish line on November 30st with a shiny new first draft.
With NaNoWriMo’s tight writing schedule, there is no time for second guessing every line. How do you silence that little negative voice? Please share your tips.
Robin trained as a professional historian and worked as a museum curator, an educator and historical consultant. She writes dark young adult fiction, with diverse characters. She's currently querying a novel, and working on two new manuscripts that started off as NaNoWriMo projects. You can follow her on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/robin.rivera.90813) or on Twitter @robinrwrites. However, Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/RRWrites/) is where her inner magpie is happiest of all.
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