Thursday, 14 November 2013

How to Silence Your Inner Critic - For NaNo and Beyond

As we approach week three of NaNoWriMo, thousands of people are frantically hammering out a novel at kitchen tables across the globe.

With my children watching over my shoulder and providing an audible countdown, I hit 50,296 on the Nano-a-thon on the 9th November.  It was the most incredible feeling and having my kids jumping around singing, 'mum did it' was, as MasterCard would say, Priceless!

My characters had become part of the family and although I was ecstatic to have accomplished the challenge, I was a little bit sad when I typed that last word.

Fortunately my NaNo draft is only book one of a trilogy so I shall be dusting them all off again for book number two.

Before I can do that however, I need to re-cap my 50k and begin the editing process. 

So why am I terrified to look at it? 

The story consumed me as I began typing on November 1st, I was a woman possessed - up at the crack of dawn, typing into the early evening until I started seeing spots instead of words - getting some sleep then starting all over again.

My characters had taken on a voice of their own and had me chuckling and gasping as new twists uncovered themselves.  I've never enjoyed writing something so much, but as I printed off the 114 crisps sheets of A4 I was petrified to see the finished result.

What if it's a pile of rubbish?  What if all that humour and tension didn't make it onto the page? What if...What if...

Then I remembered the feelings of doubt that had kept me from signing up for NaNo over the years.  It's a nagging voice I hear all too often - it's my own inner critic.

Writing my blog forced my hand and I publicly signed up for NaNo, admitting to the world that I was afraid but going to give it a go anyway - it was a liberating feeling.

When our inner critic gets going it becomes all too easy to avoid whatever task we are afraid of, this helps reduce our anxiety, but avoidance is just another word for procrastination.

If I have learnt anything from my year as a blogger, it's that my inner critic is just one part of me but it's not all of me.  I refuse to let it hold me back.

It isn't easy to fight your inner critic, in fact, it's best if you don't as this can just amplify your anxiety.  I found the following tips to be valuable:-

  • Where has the internal criticism come from.  Is it a childhood fear, peer pressure?  If you can discover the 'where' then you can work on understanding how to help yourself.
  • Remember that your inner critic is only trying to keep you safe, even when it's complaining.  Thank it for caring but ask yourself - is it helping or hurting you.
I've realised that the feeling I get deep in my gut, when self-doubt is bubbling under the surface, tells me that I'm about to embark of something that will change me in some way - it's up to me to work out if that change is for the better.

Editing a piece of work that I took so much pleasure in writing can't be that scary, can it?

To my fellow NaNoers, face your inner critic head on, square your shoulders, hold your chin high and repeat after me...'I have just written a 50,000 word masterpiece' and storm through to the finish line.

1 comment:

  1. Shelly, I've started noticing the trail between the inner critic & procrastination too… great post! Heidi