We all have an inner critic!
It’s that individual who is constantly saying things like, “That’s terrible writing, why don’t you just give up?” or “You think you’re a writer? That’s an awful story line, no one is going to read this!” or “You think you can be a bestseller, or make money from your writing, not if you keep writing this drivel!” And the list goes on and on and on. So what do you do when your inner critic who is speaking with your mother’s, father’s, or high school English teacher’s voice, won’t shut up?
Well you can do many things, these are my favorite though:
1. Remember that your inner critic cannot follow through on whatever threat scenarios it might be proposing such as keeping you from being a bestseller, making no one buy your book etc. The inner critic pretends it has the power to back up the threat, but only you can make the decision to stop writing, only you can create the deadly failure scenarios that the inner critic claims are going to happen.
2. Treat your inner critic like you would a real life critic, say thank you for your opinion, and then keep right on writing your novel, short story, or novella. You wouldn’t allow a real life critic to keep you from doing what you most want to do would you? Why allow your imaginary inner critic to do so?
3. Make a list. Make a list of all the deep dark awful scenarios the inner critic is using to try and convince you to stop writing. Do this in long hand in your journal. Then when you’re done, change each one to a positive scenario. Keep in mind that the inner critic is only your mind spouting negative affirmations. When you make a list of the negative affirmations and then make each one positive, you now have a way to change your mental script to help you be even more successful as a writer. For example, let’s say your inner critic is saying to you, “You’re a horrible writer, do you really think anyone is going to buy this book? You should just give up!” Change it to, “You’re a wonderful writer, your book is going to sell by the thousands as soon as it’s published. Keep writing, you’re an awesome writer!” Now when the inner critic pops up, change the inner script to the positive affirmations you just wrote down. Then practice saying the positive ones to yourself daily until your inner critic stops talking to you. Don’t be surprised if your inner critic continues to try and rear its ugly head from time to time, he/she will never actually completely go away, just ignore it and keep changing the negative affirmations to positive!
4. Develop a daily writing practice. Many authors decide to wait until they’re in the mood to write, or until they have more time to write, or until inspiration strikes etc. The inner critic loves authors who don’t have a daily writing practice, and is an expert at helping you to procrastinate. Don’t feel like it, don’t have time, aren’t feeling inspired? Trust me your inner critic will come up with all kinds of ideas as to why you shouldn’t sit down and write. Developing a daily writing practice even if it’s only for fifteen minutes a day will help to shut up your inner critic.
5. Practice daily mindfulness. Mindfulness is where you take time each day to basically to sit still and focus on your breath and your breathing. There are many mindfulness tracks on YouTube that can help you with your daily practice. Here are a few to try out: Mindfulness Bell 5 Minute Mediation, 5 Minute Mindful Breathing Meditation, or 5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation. With just 5 minutes every day, you can learn to disconnect from your inner critic.
The inner critic is just the replay of someone or several people in your life who thought they had the right to tell you that you couldn’t do something. The inner critic is just a series of old mental tapes. When you understand that and practice these tips to shut your inner critic up, not only will you write, and be a prolific writer, but you will be a happier person.