Starting this week, I’m moving to blogging three days a week which means Wednesday may not always be about picture books. In fact, this week it’s not!
With my life and career going through changes lately, I picked up a book I’d purchased several years ago at one of the SCBWI Rocky Mountain Chapter workshops: Create Your Writer’s Life by Cynthia Morris. I was reading a section on overcoming resistance, thinking, “Yeah, yeah. I get blocked, I have resistance (I’ve blogged about that more than once!), but I don’t have an inner critic and I know I just need to plow through.”
And then I thought about it again. The inner critic. I’ve heard about it for so long and felt lucky that I never had a voice telling me I couldn’t do it, wasn’t good enough, etc.
Except I do. Especially lately. It’s very subtle and not quite a voice–more like a feeling. The longer it takes me to finish this novel, the more I have this weight pulling me down, and when I try to put words to the weight, I think maybe I can’t finish it. That I’m not good enough, I don’t know what I’m doing, I’ll never finish and publish another novel again.
So what to do?
Cynthia suggests anthropomorphizing your inner critic–she calls it a “gremlin”–so you can interact with it. This is an excellent idea, but I couldn’t seem to get it to work for me. So I tried something different. Here are the steps I took to get back to a more positive place:
I disengaged from publishing news sources for a week. I want to be able to celebrate and cheer on the success of others whether I know them or not, but I’m not in a place to do that so I needed to stay away from all that for awhile so I could remember and celebrate my own successes.
I re-read the first 10 pages of my work-in-progress. I hadn’t done that for awhile. I knew the beginning was very strong and solid and that reminded me that this is a good book, worthy of being written, and got me excited about the story.
I re-introduced daily yoga and meditation. Getting calm and centered helps me approach my work with anticipation and a sense of purpose. I’m also trying not to end my day watching one of my favorite shows on Netflix because then I end up watching “just one more” episode and not getting the rest I need.
What are some of your strategies for silencing your inner critic or getting over a confidence hump?
I find it helps to ask questions. Questions are more empowering than conclusions. For example, instead of saying – I can’t do this, or – this sucks, I suck, etc…. Turn it into a question. Okay, I’m stuck. What else is possible here? What can I do right now to support myself in getting unstuck? What would happen if my character were stuck – what would he/she do? You get the idea. Even if I can’t figure out what to ask because my mind’s gone blank in the face of resistance, I ask, “What question could I ask here to get through this?” I ask questions and don’t try to figure out the answers, but just let the answers come to me. Sometimes it takes a minute, sometimes it takes a week, but the answers come.
I love the idea of turning a positive into a negative and how you even have a question to ask if you can’t think of a question – brilliant! Thanks for sharing.