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Dump the Inner Critic

August 8, 2023

Note From Rochelle

Dear writers,

I have a brand new class for you. In Write a Book, Change Your Life, we’ll examine how writing a book can change your life. From making you healthier (that’s true!) to helping you build and promote a business, writing a book can support you in many tangible ways. In this webinar, I’ll teach you how writing a book can add concrete value to your life. Sign up here:

Today’s tip is an excerpt from my book, Level Up. Sometimes, no matter what you do, that nasty inner critic shows up and ruins your writing mojo. It’s time to dump it. This tip shows you how to dump it IN THE MOMENT and get back to work. Try it and see if it works!

Happy writing,

Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach

Dump the Inner Critic

by Rochelle Melander

We are the stories we live! The tales we tell ourselves!

– Clay Kaczmarek, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

For many of us, our work is not just our work, it’s who we are. We write as an extension of our lives. As we give voice to characters or explain how things work, we are figuring out our own worlds. Because of this, our emotions can interact with our work. Sometimes this is helpful—it brings depth to our writing. But sometimes these emotions get in the way of doing our best work.

In the book, Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life: Train Your Brain to Get More Done in Less Time by Paul Hammerness, M.D., Margaret Moore, and John Hane, the authors identify three unhelpful emotions that we often bring to our work: anxiety, sadness, and anger. We worry about being good enough, we worry that other writers are doing better, we get sad when our work is overlooked, we get angry at those who don’t respect us, and on it goes. Who can write with that kind of junk in our heads?

In the book, Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life, the authors refer to the swirling thoughts and emotions in our brains as frenzy. We can tame the frenzy by engaging the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This can be challenging to do when our inner critic is having a hissy fit. This quest will help you drop your worries, complaints, and fears and write.

The Quest

Next time you’re writing, and the inner critic showers you with doubts, pause. When you’re tempted to whine instead of write, catch yourself. Gently tell yourself to stop, saying, I commit to drop the drama and write. Then recite a positive mantra” I’m worthy. I’m capable. One word at a time. If gentle doesn’t work, just shout: Drop the story! or even, Plot twist! And write!

I can guarantee you that the negative critic or the urge to complain will hit you again, very quickly and even harder. Repeat the implementation process: gently tell the inner critic to stop talking, recite the mantra, and write. Tweak this as needed. You might take a walk around the block or do a yoga pose to help yourself let go of the negative thoughts and grab onto the positive ones.

Pro Tip

  • When the frenzy is strong, repeating a mantra may not be enough to ease the anxiety. In those times, it can be helpful to engage the prefrontal cortex. Try a reading a complex text or playing a game like Sudoku. Once you activate your prefrontal cortex, the frenzy will slow down.

For the Win

We can become addicted to our negative stories about ourselves. Sometimes it feels easier to cling to our regrets, rehash our failures, or repeat our negative beliefs. But we can also find healing through writing. Commit to dropping the negative voices and stories that interrupt your creative process and write!

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