We try to ignore him, and we get about another sentence done before he chimes in with, “You’re using the wrong tense, and that comma’s in the wrong place.”
We struggle on, but a paragraph later he’s back, telling us, “You just used a cliché. No one’s ever going to buy this crap.”
At this point, even if we’re still trying to put up a fight, we may find that our muse has packed her bags and gone off to find a safe place to hide.
What’s a writer to do?
One option that’s worked for me is using creative visualization exercises. Here are a couple I like:
Picture your critic. Mine looks like Snidely Whiplash, the mustache-twirling villain from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons (therefore, I use male pronouns).
Shrink him down to a teeny-tiny size, as small as the importance he deserves in your life while you’re trying to create.
Stick him in a see-through but soundproof container. I like a nice orange plexiglass cube.
Watch him jump up and down with frustration because he knows YOU CAN’T HEAR HIM!
Pick up the container and stick it out of sight, in a room other that the one where you’re writing – I’m partial to a shelf in the hall closet. You can go back and get him when you need him, during revisions.
Figure out where in your body the critic is hiding in. You’ll know because that’s where you feel the tension.
Rip him right out of that body part. See the hole immediately close, and feel no pain.
Drop the critic on the floor or other flat surface.
Levitate an unabridged dictionary from the bookcase until it’s hovering directly over his head.
Many thanks to former ghost writer for Kermit the Frog and current sherpa life coach Regina Verow (www.reginaverow.com), who taught me these exercises for taming the inner critic. As is the Friday afternoon custom here in Diva land, I raise my chocolate martini glass to you!