Writer Vs. Internal Critic
(Or, One on Each Shoulder)
1. My friend, Anita Howard, wrote about turning off your internal editor while you read for pleasure. So…yanno…you can find pleasure in reading instead of thinking, “wow, why did this author do xyz here?”
2. My other friend, Mary Frame, mentioned being in a writing slump, but has been doing a fantastic blog series on how to raise stakes, embrace pain, and make your WiP sparkle.
3. My first critiquerly interviewee, INTERN, just did posted her frightful confession about comparing herself to others and going through torturous, self-deprecating thoughts.
Using several principles of math known only to ninja scientists and too complicated to describe in this post, I've added the above points together and I've come up with an exponential result.
I’d also been in a slump (ended a month ago). For months, I’d been meaning to work on my WiP. I printed it out. I started to chart the chapters in an excel spreadsheet to find gaps or opportunities or whatever it was I should correct. For weeks and weeks, I kept the file open at the bottom of my screen
out of guilt so I could see it and it would remind me to work on it.
But I didn’t.
excuse theory: my Internal Editor overtook me. Pinned me to the floor. Instead of being the helpful, oopsie-that’s-passive-tense kind of editor, it flipped over to the wow-you-suck-you-shouldn’t-write-anymore kind of critic. I liken it to the angel/devil on each shoulder. The angel represents my muse, but she's sometimes knocked into the dirt by my devilish critic.
Something that usually brings the worst side of my internal critic to the surface is when I’ve realized something new as a writer that I hadn’t paid attention to before, and I freeze up because I’m not sure if I can do what I need to do to become better. This realization, though, is growth, and normally comes from an outside critique which is then incorporated into my internal critic’s list of
Anita told me about another friend of hers who uses a stuffed animal to represents their Internal Editor. This friend puts the stuffed toy into a drawer every time they need to write. Brilliant.
When you write, listen to your muse. When you edit, listen to your critic.
The amount of time it takes to get over a slump is different for everyone. Mary Kole describes it as a crisis of self-confidence. If you’re experiencing a slump, try to figure out the positive message from your Internal Editor. Because maybe? Slumps are good for you.
So, embrace your devil. And then?
Turn your head the other way and kiss your muse.