Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Inner Critic

Last night, while still tinkering with the grad school statements, I couldn't get far without my inner critic interrupting. Peering over my shoulder, she whispered insidiously -- almost convincing me that the effort was futile: "I don't know what I'm doing. This piece is no good. No school will accept me."

When I stated this aloud in the midst of a wee tantrum, my partner simply replied, "You're just trying to convince yourself that you're not ready for the rigors of graduate study. But you are. Now get back to work." But I couldn't type one word in without that nasty critic beating me down.

I keep this humorous card from a former forth grade student on my desk. Maybe every reward comes with a mutated flower.
Sometimes writing is downright risky, and putting myself out there for others to judge is such a vulnerable act. The fear fuels the self-sabotage, but suppressing that doubting voice does nothing to quell it. So last night I let her rage all over the page until I got it out of my system. Then I returned to the task at hand and completed another revision.

At times like these it helps to combat that critic with the sentiments of my supporters, and to remember I always think I'm worse than I am. As a high school senior I assumed I must be in trouble (me?) when called to the office; it turned out I was receiving an achievement award in English. Eight years later one of my college professors, the anthropologist and writer Peter Nabokov (relative of the Nabokov), wrote on my essay: "You can be and do anything -- including a writer."

Nobody ever stated that so clearly before or since -- until my grandfather said, when I was to be published for the first time, "You're on your way to being a literary genius!" Okay, it's only a slight exaggeration from my biggest fan. But every bit of believing in me helps.

Dear reader,
What does your inner critic tell you? How do you contain/quell it to move on? Who has been in your corner, advocating for you with positive feedback, encouragement and support?


Joanna Jenkins said...

Good luck with the grad school statement. It sounds like you have some really wonderful cheerleaders n your corner!

Wishing you a great new year!

soulyluna said...

I agree with grandpa! Cheering you on, Zimmy2

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