Elizabeth: Muffling the Inner Critic

Okay, technically I’m not suggesting you go out and get drunk as part of your daily writing practice (unless you want to, of course, or you’re channeling Hemmingway), but there is a nugget of wisdom in the quote above.

It has been suggested a time or two, by people who know me, that with the addition of a little alcohol (a modest amount, not a “hold my hair while I retch” amount), I’m ever-so-slightly more charming and delightful.  I’m not much of a drinker, so just a small amount goes a long way toward giving the world a happy / soft-focus appearance and making stress and worry step back a bit.  It also does a great job silencing that inner voice that always seems to be worried about saying something dumb or doing something embarrassing.

When it comes to writing, your version of “drunk” may mean kicking off your process by listening to your favorite playlist, relaxing in a warm bubble bath, or doing a little mind-clearing meditation.  Whatever helps you get your mind in the story, and drowns out that voice that insists on judging every word you put on the page, is a good thing.

I’m out of bubble bath, but I’ve got a nice bottle of port in the kitchen, so I’m going give it a try (for research purposes, of course).  If it doesn’t help me get some words on the page, at least I’m likely to get a good night’s sleep.

So, what ways have you found to silence your inner critic so can focus on getting words on the page?

5 thoughts on “Elizabeth: Muffling the Inner Critic

  1. It’s funny, but I’ve been using word counts as a way to turn off the inner critic. I’ve only started doing this recently (tied with writing sprints — the word counts are to make sure I’m making forward progress and not deleting more than I’m creating, the sprints are to chunk it up so I get a break), and it’s not completely working yet, so I either need to lower my word count goal or stop getting distracted. Probably the latter. But I’m hoping the goal of finishing my quota for the day shuts off the desire to delete, and add, and delete, and add, and delete words to the page.

    • Sounds like a good plan, Neen. Hopefully as you reach your quota more and more often, your inner critic will lose interest and wander off.

  2. I like word counts, too. Sometimes when I think everything I’m doing is crap and I can’t seem to get it right, I don’t really want to stifle the critic inside because I suspect there’s something inherently wrong with what I’m doing. So I just keep plowing ahead until I get my word count in for the day. The next day I see that it is indeed crap, and I delete it. But often when what I’m writing feels wrong, it’s because I don’t know what’s supposed to happen next—I’ve lost track of the conflict or have veered too far away from my central story. With luck, I can find my way back. And having written obvious junk for a day (or more) makes that strikingly obvious.

    • Kay, your comment reminds me of what I heard recently about writer’s block signaling a bad idea not the inability to write. Maybe your “feels wrong” is indeed trying to signal to you that you’ve veered off course. Or maybe you just have to write delete-able stuff in order to access the gems hiding below. 🙂 At least you are getting words on the page, despite how you feel about them.

  3. When I’m in the zone, I think I’m fabulous. Rightly or wrongly. There’s something intoxicating about being in the zone.

    It’s just getting in the zone! I can see how a drink can relax a writer into being able to tap into those hidden networks that put a story together. I’m often tempted, but I don’t drink anymore, so when I do have a glass of wine, it makes me feel weird, and I’m too involved in the physical sensations of being tipsy to pay attention to my story.

    Being ill sometimes does the trick! It’s got to be that special place in illness where you are quite ill, but you’ve been in bed all day so you are actually rested. Fevers help. I may have to work up some Sick Day project that I only work on when I’m in that state (-:.

    I think for me, I need some alone time. No drama, from friends or work (I’m remarkably lucky that my family is pretty drama-avoidant). Then I get to a bored, restless state where I don’t want to watch TV, I don’t want to surf the net for more lousy world news, and I definitely don’t want to tackle some of the lesser housework. At that point, writing feels like a good, productive option. (-: I’m almost there! Seems like a good time to tackle the Friday Sprints!

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