That Pesky Critic of Writers

by Gina Burgess

Listen. What did you just tell yourself?

Mine just told me to go get coffee. I did. Then I thought of several other things I needed to do besides write this article. Something in the back of our minds tries to push us away from creativity and great things to help others and toward the mundane and routine. There could be a dozen reasons for that. Usually there’s a fleeting thought that wants to stick on the mind-wall like done spaghetti. Maybe one of these or something similar:

“You’re not a writer, why are you trying so hard?”

“You haven’t written enough to be a writer.”

“You aren’t good enough.”

“You aren’t published so you can’t really call yourself a writer.”

One word for that. Poppycock!

That creative-killer, inner critic needs squashing like a bug.

There are hundreds of famous writers who have heard that same critic, and overcame it’s paralyzing, hypnotic influence. Even more who battle it everyday.

Tom Blubaugh wrote an article that you need to read. The key question is are you in this just for a hobby or a profession? Decide that, and you’ve armed yourself against that harsh inner critic. Another tool is to recognize who actually wields the power sword. Is it you or is it the Dragon Critic?

There is a difference between hobby writing and being a professional. The difference is commitment. Hobbyists are a bit selfish and can pick it up or put it down. They are in it for the pleasure it brings to them. A professional commits to provide something either to himself or to another. There is a lot of desire to share knowledge and skill in the professional.

Professionals have doubts, but they don’t let the doubts hang around. They are passionate about what they are doing. So what does passionate writing look like? You tell me. There are as many passions out there as are people in the world. Your passion can ooze out of you like water from a leaky faucet, or you can turn that faucet on and let the juices flow without regard for who gets splashed.

Here’s a flash I read somewhere: Our inner killer critic is a bully and a big fat liar. (Wish I knew where so I could give credit). Now read that sentence again. How do we usually respond to bullies and liars?

How much power do you want to give that bully and liar?

Recognize you’ve given away power that belongs to you. Next time a thought like that crosses your mind, don’t chase it, but do notice it. Then negate it out loud.

James Scott Bell, one of the best writing coaches I’ve ever read, said not only was his inner critic devastating him, so were several other people who read his work. Some saying that he’d never be a good writer, and that good writers were born not educated into good writing. He proved everyone wrong, even himself.

Writers write. It doesn’t matter the volume of writing or even the quality of writing. If you write, you are a writer.

If you think you aren’t good enough, then get James Scott Bell’s book Plot and Structure. It is amazing and will inspire you to great heights. Find an editor that will work with you on a piecemeal basis. We have several really good editors here at Authors Community. You can get to know them in the discussion forum. A good editor will teach you how to write better. She will give you great advice so beware: You need to be married to the idea not to the words.

Being published doesn’t authenticate your writing. It is a process a writer goes through in order to share his writing. Being published doesn’t mean you are “good enough.” Lots of writers get published traditionally and indie publish, but they still need an editor to polish their work.

You don’t need a whispery, crooked wand, or a magic spell, or another dragon to vanquish that dragon voice in the back of your mind. You just need one question: Do I really believe that voice?

A baby doesn’t fall out of the womb running, laughing, and playing. There are dozens of small steps a baby needs to take before he can do those things. You need to teach yourself the truth rather than relying on broad, general statements. Therefore, undermine these global statements like, “I can’t write,” with something different. “What do you mean? Here are reams of writing. My computer is full of writing that I wrote.” Then sit down and write something, anything, a hundred words or a thousand. Look at what you accomplished! You can write!

So how have you contended with that dragon voice? What swords do you use?

It’s okay for those thoughts to flit through you mind. We all have them. But it isn’t okay to let them build a city in your mind. Sweep them out like yesterday’s garbage. Stand up to the bully. Refute the liar with proof of truth. You have the power!

6 thoughts on “That Pesky Critic of Writers”

  1. Thanks for this, Gina. I agree that, if you’re a writer, you write. Conversely, I believe that you’re not if you don’t. Thank you especially for your wonderful word picture of faucet from just leaky drips to flowing full blast. Brilliant!

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