Stella Leventoyannis Harvey

That Critic

A word after a word, after a word is power.” Margaret Atwood

I give this advice to writers all the time, yet find it hard to truly believe myself, particularly when my writing isn’t flowing. Mind you, when does writing ever flow?

Staring at my meagre daily word count I wonder how I’m ever going to complete my current project. It’s demoralizing. And then the negative self-talk begins.

Is that it? Why can’t you do more? Figure this out? Why are you such an idiot?

And on it goes. We all have that inner critic no matter what line of work we’re in.

The question is what we do about it.

In my case, I listen to that critic giving her as much space and time to hit me with whatever she’s got. Then I fight back. I shut her up by showing up, no matter the circumstance or excuse. And man, I can come up with a lot of excuses.

I draft a to-do list every night for the following day. The first thing on that list is: Write. I wake up early. I go to my desk (or plop myself on the floor in the spare room when I’m visiting my dad or in the bathroom if I’m in a hotel and don’t want to disturb my husband) and I reread what I’ve written. Those words and sentences and twists and turns weren’t there the day before. I created them. One word at a time.

Reminding myself of this moves me forward and silences the critic.

She never completely disappears, needling at me when I least expect it. But perhaps I need her. There is nothing like a battle to bolster determination.

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