Listening and the Inner Critic

I am almost positive that this will not be the only post I ever do about this topic, but today, it’s in relation to listening. Over the past few days, we’ve been talking about a few aspects of writing classes that aren’t directly about writing: sharing, feedback, and listening. Today is about the Inner Critic and how that can affect how I listen and respond during writing class.

The Inner Critic is different for each of us and manifests in different ways. For me, this song encapsulates a lot of it for me.

There are tapes that are old messages, new messages, and are sometimes, really powerful. They can creep up when someone is reading something that really resonates with me and I find myself thinking, “I can’t/shouldn’t read. I can’t compare to that.” They creep up when I am feeling something very powerful about what I wrote and think I shouldn’t read, because it’s Too Much. They creep up when I want to respond to something, but there just aren’t words. There are so many ways that my Inner Critic creeps in.

Tape and Light, 2nd EffortI often feel or think that I should come up with something brilliant. (Both in writing and feedback.) In my own writing, I’ve had countless times I’ve found the line, “I want to write something brilliant.” The Inner Critic both wants me to and keeps me from doing just that. The chatter of the Critic keeps me from experiencing my writing or another’s writing.

I don’t believe that “getting rid of it” is the answer. There’s a purpose, reason, and sometimes necessity for the Critic. Again, I doubt this will be the only time I talk about the Critic. Rather, I think that noticing when the Critic’s voice crops up – when I notice those tapes that seem to come of their own accord – this is also part of the practice. Noticing, and not judging but also not letting them sweep me away from listening.

No real answers, but noticing… always noticing.

Another great resource on musings about the Inner Critic, let me point you toward one of my writing teachers. Miriam Hall has some great blog posts (including resources) on the Inner Critic (the link will take you to the posts tagged with that).

Do you have a strong inner critic? What happens when you notice it?

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One thought on “Listening and the Inner Critic

  1. As a librarian, I hear the voices of all the other librarians sometimes. I think they are my inner critic. Nothing is ever good enough for them, and I know that’s why I wait lightyears to edit. I see all the mistakes through their eyes, and I want it to feel fresh, needed, ready when the editing process should begin. Can’t wait.

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