My inner critic loves to come out and play. A lot. Especially when my overactive brain starts to kick in and read far too much in other peoples’ actions, reactions, and speech. The harshest blows to my psyche from this inner critic come in relation to things that happen involving the opposite sex. It’s stupid, I know, but I can’t help it. I know I’m not the only one who deals with her inner critic. Natalie over at Between Fact and Fiction posted about it today as she’s gone back into writing mode after revising for a good while.
I could label my inner critic a “he,” but I’ve never known a guy as catty, cynical, snide, or debasing as my inner critic. But I’ve known plenty of girls that were that way. So it may be a bit cliche, but my inner critic is a she.
We have to exorcise our inner critic, at least in the early stages of writing. We have to learn to recognize the critic’s destructive comments from the constructive ones.
I took a class in graduate school called “Meditation and Writing.” Or something like that. (Sorry, Michael.) It was a one-week course (easiest 3 credits I’ve ever earned), five days for 8 hours or so. We spent the morning doing free-writing exercises, meditating, and discussing the textbook for the course. (I know, right? A textbook for a 1-week class? We didn’t read the whole thing.) This book is titled The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I’ve yet to go through the entire 12 week process she outlines in her book. But there’s one thing she discusses that I’ve done consistently for nearly the last 2 months.
What are morning pages you ask? To quote Ms. Cameron: “Put simply, the morning pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness.”
I write them first thing (usually), before I even get out of my bed.
These pages are most often filled with random ramblings about various things, sometimes I’ll put in my latest number of blog followers if it’s something that runs through my head. The general idea is to just get the negativity out onto paper first thing in the morning so that it’s not with you so much in the day.
When I first started out with the morning pages I really couldn’t see a benefit. They were still so negative and directionless. I often would put in a to-do list or a to-read list just to fill the pages faster. It does take a long time to do this. Usually about 45-50 minutes or even longer depending on how much is running through my head.
Today I realized that the pages aren’t as negative any more. In fact, now I mostly ramble about what I wrote or accomplished writing-wise, where I need to go, questions that I need to answer for myself so that my book isn’t completely directionless, etc. There are still the occasionally snarky comments from my inner critic, but I’m slowly silencing her and exorcising her presence from my writing life.