The Inner Critic

I was asked an excellent question at a day of teaching novel writing at the weekend.

To set the scene, I'll start this blog with a picture of the group...

library teaching day.jpg

... and say thank you to them for being so keen and talented, and the excellent new Exeter Library for hosting the day.

Anyway, the question was this - how do you deal with your inner critic?

It's something I've not been asked before, and took a few seconds thought before I came up with a response - which is to be honest.

The critic is so different in each of us. Some talk far too much, others don't say enough.

Interestingly, some of the best writers I've met have the most vocal inner critics, and the two may be connected - perhaps the constant nagging voice drives them on and on to new heights.

But it can also be negative - continually getting at you, and knocking your confidence, creativity and abilities.

Having had more time to think about it, the best answer I can give about the inner critic is to listen to the voice, think about whether it's right, but also - importantly - to give yourself a break.

It's ok as a writer to sometimes be gentle with yourself, sit back and think you've worked hard and done pretty well, and allow yourself a moment of calm and satisfaction.

It can be a lonely life, this writing lark, with plenty of people ready to knock you - an additional one coming from within isn't always helpful.

Your inner critic may mean well, but also has to learn to sometimes be quiet and let you get on with the writing. It's a tough message, but - when required - don't be afraid to tell them so.