Hey sparrows. How’s flying lately? Gotten any closer to your dreams? I sure hope so!
I’ve been thinking a lot about creative and writer’s block. What it is and what it isn’t. I have reason to think it quite doesn’t exist at all – that it’s just a phenomenon of your inner critics.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock dying your cheese-whiz the colors of easter eggs, you’ve probably heard the term “inner critic.” But have you really thought about what that means? If you are a working artist or writer – or aspire to be – your inner critic is the voice inside your head that prevents you from actually working. And guess what? You have more than one critic to contend with. You have several.
Ever since I was introduced to the term, I just accepted my many critical voices and thoughts as inevitable. I didn’t think I had any control over them so I never tried to understand their role in my life. What was their purpose? Did they actually prevent me from acting on my dreams and goals or was I just suffering from a nasty bout of lazy? Could I have any degree of control over them and did it even matter? Weren’t they normal – like, just an unavoidable part of life that I had to live with?
I never realized that I was in relationship to them, like dysfunctional family members you put up with during the holidays. Most importantly, I never realized how profoundly they demoralized me, aborting any and all positive action before it was realized. I think soul-suck is the appropriate word here. Or maybe: vampire. Sometimes, I half-recognized their bloodletting and called it “writer’s block.” I didn’t really have any other words. But I couldn’t really even use that because my inner critics were so effective, so damned good at what they did, that I didn’t even know I was a writer.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS WRITER’S BLOCK. THERE ARE ONLY INNER CRITICS.
These days, I will do anything – and I mean anything – to keep myself inspired and firmly in control of my inner critics so that I don’t fall victim to paralysis again. I will sing. I will dance. I will look at pretty pictures. I will hang colorful dots with affirmations from my ceiling so that they graze the top of my head each time I walk underneath them. I will color in coloring books. I will listen to Lady Gaga. I will put in the required effort. I will carve out the necessary time. And, I will talk to my inner critics. I will learn about them, respect them, and hear – really hear their voices.
I’ve been doing SARK’s WINS program which includes learning how to recognize, name, and dialogue with your inner critics. She bases her work off of Hal and Sidra Stone’s voice dialogue approach and the ‘psychology of the selves.’ I was skeptical at first – I had already broken through my so-called writer’s block but I knew I had to stay vigilant; the battle was far from over. I also needed every advantage and skill possible to help prepare myself for future goals and challenges.
So I listened to the lessons and read the worksheets. And I experimented. If there was a benefit to this work, I wasn’t about to miss it.
I haven’t been doing it very long – but it doesn’t take much. It only took me a few initial times to help me see the connection between my inner critics and the phenomena formerly known as “writer’s block.” In fact, I quickly realized that writer’s block was created by the ongoing dialogue of the inner critics, that its strength correlated directly to theirs. If writer’s block is a puppet, the critics hold the strings. If writer’s block is a soccer ball, the critics are a team of devilish Beckhams. If the writer’s block is a . . . well, you get the picture.
NICE TO MEET YOU. WE ARE YOUR INNER CRITICS.
You learn to recognize your inner critics through their siren songs. They say things such as:
- You will never learn x,y, or z so why even try?
- You’ll always be a failure. Who are you kidding?
- Did you do enough?
- You didn’t do x,y, or x well enough did you?
- You’re not loveable or likeable.
- You can’t have what that person has. You don’t deserve it.
- You don’t have the time for x,y, or z.
- So-and-so won’t like it if you try x, y, or z.
- Your writing isn’t any good, you will never catch up, you’re too old, no one will publish you, you won’t sell anything or make any money, no one wants to read that, writers are important people and you’re not important . . .
You know, I think the siren songs of inner critics are the ultimate ellipses. They just go on and on and on. The word ellipsis comes from the Greek word “élleipsis,” an “omission” or a “falling short.” When you’re alone in a room, exactly who tells you how short you are falling – and in how many ways?
You don’t have to accept their control over your life. And you don’t have to accept writer’s block.
There’s so much more about this subject that I want to share. I promise to write more about it soon – but for now, it’s laters baby. And hey: try writing a reminder to yourself in the coming week to listen to your inner critics. Take 10 minutes when you’re dialing up 1.800.STUFFSUCKS and express your feelings on paper. Don’t edit. Just record. Those aren’t your voices, you know. They’re your inner critics. And, you know what? They’re not telling the truth.