The Critic

I’m going to give my inner critic a name. It will be a ridiculous name, because my inner critic is ridiculous. At the moment, I’m leaning toward Wafflenose. Or perhaps, Lady Wafflenose (my critic does deserve some respect – especially during editing time – but should never be taken too seriously).

Yesterday, I wrote drafts for several blog posts. I was convinced while writing them that they were complete and utter crap. When I re-read them today, I was shocked at how well they’d turned out. They captured my thoughts clearly and in my voice, and I even laughed a time or two.

Writing them was painful. I restarted one piece no less than seven times before I figured out that my critic was loose and running around in my psyche turning over chairs and ripping up paper. Oh, critic. I keep trying to tell you, “I can fix it later.” Apparently, that statement is not currently working.

And so, I say to her:

My Dear Lady Wafflenose, I truly value your feedback – at appropriate times. When I am writing a first draft, that is not an appropriate time. When I am editing a piece, you are very welcome to point out areas that can be improved upon. But if you want stories and thoughts to play with, you need to stop scaring them off when they’re first approaching us. I would take it as a kindness if you could do so.

And to you out there, great big world of writers, artists, creators, I say this: Consider giving yourselves a break. Literally. Take a few moments, a few hours, a few days away from a piece when you find you’re ready to throw it out the window. When you return, who knows; you might see it in a different light and fall in love with it again.

Any ideas for ridiculous names for your own inner critic? Leave a comment if you’d like to share them with others.

Why Write

When I’m looking at a blank page, my inner critic likes to remind me that I haven’t published yet, and there’s every chance no one will ever see the words I’m about to put on the page. Writing is hard work, especially when I’m going through the entire process of finishing a novel, editing it, polishing it, and getting it ready for the world. And then begins the process of researching publishers to find a match for the piece, and there’s the daily work of always always always learning, reading, studying, practicing, all to improve my craft.

Why not just daydream and enjoy the stories myself?

And then I think about those moments when I’ve shared my work with someone who really got it. Someone who said, “Yes! This.” And that singular feeling of connecting with another human being drives me to keep going, to keep putting word after word on the page. It’s all the more terrifying for all the people out there who will say, “No. Not this.” But without trying, without sending out these flares of self-expression, I’ll miss those connections that make life so worthwhile.

whitman