Silencing the Inner Critic

I feel like the wreck of the Hesperus today. Yesterday brought the first mild sunny spring day since the last ice age and I ventured forth into the garden. But I foundered on a sea of couch grass swamping the veggie plot. My pride wouldn’t let me put down the spade and fork until the job was done and now I’m creeping around like an arthritic crab.

To add insult to injury, this infirmity is accompanied by the Voice. It chimes in:
“I told you you’d never dig all that lot up.”
“You’re too old to be doing this, ha! Think you’re twenty-one again, don’t you? You wish, granny”.

I send it a pithy reply, “Ah, shut the f..k up.” (Does WordPress allow rude words?)

Me and this beastie have been at war since…well forever . It has something to say about all my endeavours. It calls itself my Inner Critic. I call it a major pain in the butt. Mostly I feign deafness but on occasions its sibilant little whisper turns into a siren song.

For example, when I go clothes shopping – not often these days and usually involving a trawl through all the local charity shops – I’ll pick something out and try it on. By the way does anyone know why shops always put those distorting mirrors in the changing rooms? You know, the ones that make you look like a grounded barrage balloon? If I’m undecided about the item, up pops the Voice:
“Ooh yeah! You look great in that. The colour really suits you.”

It sounds so sincere and flattering that I buy whatever the article is. Then, when I wear it, my friends laugh so much the tears run down their legs.

But the Voice is pure poison when it comes to writing. Although I’ve silenced it more or less when I write non-fiction (true it has had a few words to say about the less than stellar new book sales -Time for Your Life, on Kindle, just in case you’ve forgotten) but with my fiction it’s having a field day.

“Huh, so you won a short story comp. Big deal. One swallow doesn’t make a summer you know”.
“That character’s crap, totally unbelievable”
and so on and on and on.

The captain of the Hesperus tied his daughter to the mast to keep her safe. I wonder if I could rewrite the story and tie the Voice to a piece of driftwood, wait for the spring gales and then chuck it far out to sea. Probably the last words I’d hear would be:

“What are you like, woman? Rewrite the story, you couldn’t rewrite a parking sign and what sort of a knot do you call that?”

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2 thoughts on “Silencing the Inner Critic

  1. Hmmm – I’ve been writing about how to silence that voice this week. My students are always complaining when I tell them that they need to put their editor’s hats on that they can’t take them off again and get creative. Interesting that you talk about non fiction v fiction because I find my fiction students are always having a harder time.

  2. I think the Voice is quieter on non-fiction partly because a lot of what I write depends on good research and facts. Also, it’s an area where I am more confident because I’ve had success and built up a bit of a track record. This breeds confidence and shuts the Voice up. Fiction on the other hand depends mainly on imagination and creativity. I’m not sure yet that I have what it takes.

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