“You have it.
You just have to believe that you have it.”
Here’s some things your Inner Critic might yell at you when you’re starting out:
- “That’s not the right word!”
- “This sounds dumb.”
- “This story will never work. What a stupid idea.”
- “Why am I wasting my time with this? I’ll never finish it.”
But as you begin to jot down (and then ignore) the things the Inner Critic says, I think you’ll find that it starts saying different things, like:
- “Describe this better.”
- “Does this work logically?”
- “Are you sure you spelled that right?”
- “Did that character talk like this when you first introduced them?”
Once your Inner Critic figures out there’s nothing it can do to stop you from writing, it’ll turn into a Constructive Critic! –Less “This is stupid!” and more “Hey, didn’t you say X happened like a hundred pages ago? What about that?”
And while you don’t necessarily need to tackle those points during drafting, you have to admit–these kinds of comments are useful!
“The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.” – Abraham Lincoln
Your Inner Critic mostly wants to be heard. The trick is to let him speak–but not to listen too closely (especially when you’re drafting!)
In my own drafts–both digital and handwritten, I use the following technique: If I’m writing along and suddenly my inner critic points out something, I simply insert a square bracket, write its comment, close the bracket, and proceed with the story.
If I’m doing this on the computer, I turn the comment red so it stands out during editing. That way I can review the comments later (some of them may be on to something, after all) when I’m not in the flow of writing. I get to write, the Critic gets heard, and everybody wins.
It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something. ~Ornette Coleman
I love the game Psychonauts for many a reason (MILKMAN CONSPIRACY! also, Sasha Nein), but the studio’s interpretation of the “Inner Critic” really won me over.
Psychonauts is a game where you jump into the minds of different characters and help work out their issues. One level is set in the mind of a failed actress. When you enter her mind, you meet her inner critic, Jasper. He’s a huge ticklike guy, who is snarky and hates everything you do.
At the end of the level, you defeat him in a typical video-game style boss battle. But unlike other enemies, this inner critic doesn’t disappear or die! No! instead he just shrinks…down…to a manageable size.
And to me, that rings true: Your inner critic will never go away. But there are some ways to keep his loud voice from overpowering your desire to write.
If criticism had any power to harm, the skunk would be extinct by now. ~ Fred Allen