Putting your inner critic to work

A few years ago my inner critic was not only speaking to me a lot, but it was also easier than usual for me to “hear.” What I mean is that I was able to notice my critic’s voice in real time and write down what it said. During that time I always kept a few outdated business cards in my back pocket so I could pull one out and write on the back of it at a moment’s notice. I’d write something like, “That scene you wrote yesterday is stupid and pretentious,” then put the card back in my pocket. Ha, caught ya, little voice! Just writing these nasty things down and getting them out of my head provided helpful objectivity. I could examine the cards in a clear light and see them for what they were—absurdities, lies, and sneaky half-truths: “You should be exercising all the time.” Absurd. […]

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That Sound

Audiobook Jen steps up to the yellow line on the train platform, thinking that today she’ll make an appointment, get herself checked out to make sure nothing’s wrong. Rule out anything serious, so she can stop worrying. As if to confirm the wisdom of this idea, it happens again. Her neck makes that sound as she turns her head to look into the train tunnel. It sounds like a butcher knife scraped across cartilage. No! she thinks in the general direction of her Neuron Jumper implant, I don’t like that image. Give me a different one. She turns her head and hears the sound again, no different, but this time the image that comes to mind is of fingers sliding across a keyboard—brrrrrroop, with trilled r’s. It’s artsy and creative, and not at all creepy. Better, she thinks. In a Jumper subroutine, the fingers-sliding-across-keyboard simile gets a plus one. Even if Jen can’t make the sound stop, she can at least […]

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A long story came into my head, and for a year I wrote it down. And then I stopped. My perfectionism had tied me on a short leash, and I finally went around the pole enough times that the slack was gone. What unwound me was a writing instructor whose message is “just keep writing.” You don’t have to write the story in order—just write the quilt square that comes to you today, and assemble the pieces of the quilt later. Write. Write! In other words, to actually complete a first draft of my novel, I will have to…write. I went for a walk to think about one of my storylines, and I found a place away from people so I could dictate a scene into my voicemail. Transcribing it later, I heard birds chirping and wind whooshing past the phone. I also used my phone to take a few photos. What I like […]

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