To Tame the Inner Critic

I have been away for awhile to take a class to help me write a book.  It is exciting.  It is scary. It is all about learning something new.  It is exhausting, mostly because writing is vulnerability on paper.

Whenever I need to be vulnerable, there appears my cast of characters.  Typically, the characters include procrastination, fear, excitement, and courage; but the one I have the hardest time with is the inner critic.  In the writing process, I have found her role goes a little something like this…

I stare at this blank page and I will my pen to move. Nonsense begins as the pen scratches up and down forming lines, which become letters, which become words. As words fill the blank space, guess who shows up? IC, my inner critic. I have named her Vanilla IC.

IMG_0419Vanilla likes to stalk around the nonsensical trail left by my pen. She mumbles to herself as she stalks, “it’s crap.” Further down the trail she declares, “all of it is crap.” Then she begins to sing, first softly and then louder as she goes, “crap, crap, baby, who cares.”

And like a petulant child, I refuse to listen to her. I continue to move my pen while whispering mantra after mantra to myself. Do the work. Just show up on the page. Let the words flow and worry about making sense later. Keep going. These whispered mantras block out Vanilla’s song so I can keep going.

Vanilla goes to the corner and pouts, for she does not like to be upstaged. She waits there while I continue. Words flow onto the page. Ideas begin to take root. A little smile dances on my lips. I am doing this. And this is when Vanilla strikes again.


Now there is no stalking around the outside, no mumbles on the periphery. Now Vanilla screams and jumps right onto the page blocking my pen. “It is all crap, can’t you see? What ever made you think you can write?”

I stop. I know Vanilla loves me. I know she wants to protect me from getting hurt. I have issues with vulnerability, with walls and trust. Vanilla wants me to stay behind my wall and not trust that I can put myself out there without being hurt. People might laugh, or misunderstand, or just plain not like me for what I say.

So I sing back to her, “Vanilla IC, IC baby, it’s fine.” I recite mantra after mantra to her…we can do hard things…what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger….hakuna matata. She doesn’t seem convinced.

So, I try gratitude.  I thank Vanilla for caring so much about me. I tell her how much I appreciate her wanting to keep me safe.  But it is time to let her know it is ok. Really. I’m ready.

Vanilla just stares me down. I don’t blink. I know this is her final test. I stare right back. She has no choice but to say, “Ok. Today I will let you write. But, I will be back tomorrow, just incase.”

“Until tomorrow,” I say. I pick up my pen and write.

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