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 During that time I always kept a few outdated business cards in my back pocket so I could pull one out and write on the back of it at a moment’s notice.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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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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