Do You Have An Internal Critic?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recently, my friend, Julie, whom some of you may have read about in a recent issue of Premium Green (which by the way is a terrific, inexpensive e-book through WOW!--check it out), sent me an interesting email about a writer's internal critic. The article was by Mary Anne Hahn and titled, "Coping with Your Internal Critic and Editor."

She started her article with a great quote by Dr. Seuss--"Everything stinks till it's finished." Isn't that the truth?

Anyway, in this article, Hahn writes that if you are a writer with a lot of unfinished projects and notes around your desk or office, you could be suffering from your internal critic beating you up and telling you that you aren't a good enough writer to finish a project or submit it to a publisher or even write at all. Obviously, this internal critic is a HUGE problem if she is sending you these negative messages and messing with your self-esteem as a writer. So, what do you do?

1. First, listen to your internal critic, and write down the negative messages you are hearing. If you ignore them, but they are still playing in your head and stopping you from completing projects or creating freely, then you have to face her head on!

2. Look at each message objectively. If you one of the messages is: "You are a terrible writer because you can never finish anything you start," then think of a project that you have recently finished--a blog post, an article for a newsletter, a page on your website, a poem, anything! If you haven't finished a writing project, then think of a home project you have finished. Look for a success to contradict the negative message playing in your brain.

3. Set a goal to create another success as soon as possible. For example, if your internal critic is saying, "This story will never be accepted by a magazine." Revise your story one time, and send it to at least one magazine or maybe a few that take simultaneous submissions. If you never send your work out, which is what your internal critic is telling you to do,then you will never know if your work is ready or not. So, send it out! Do the exact opposite of what your internal critic is saying.

The only person that can get rid of these negative messages in your writing career is you! Most writers have these messages at one point or another going through their heads. The successful ones have faced them, ignored them, worked through them, talked to other writers about them, and listened to the optimistic voice inside that says, "I know I can do this, " or "She did this, and so can I!"

Happy Writing!
Margo Dill
"Read These Books and Use Them" blog
photo by the trial


Angela Mackintosh said...

That is so true, Margo! I think I'm experiencing this as we speak. It seems like every time I write something, I wonder if it's edited correctly. It's like I need that final approval from somebody saying, "Yeah, it's good," or "It's clean, go ahead." Without that, I feel like I'm not sure if what I'm writing is solid. I think my inner critic coming out. I'm going to take your advice! I never thought of writing down the negative messages. So simple, and so true. Thanks for this post!

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