Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Inner Critic and Ways to Fight It

I went through this exact same thing in my late teens and my adult-but-not-really-adult years, and continue to have the same thoughts even today. I just want you to know that these thoughts are natural. Creative types go through these cycles all the time, though it’s important not to endure this alone.

For me, a lot of it has to do with the development of the inner critic. As we get older, we get better at what we do, but our world gets bigger too, so we don’t really see our own growth in comparison to what others do and how much better they do it and how can we ever keep going if someone can do it better and—etc. It could be that your lack of motivation is a side effect of something bigger like this. It was for me.

I’ve also heard that, for creative types, they hit a wall when they realize they’re not as good as they want to be. The internet, bless the thing, makes this worse, because now we have greater access to a massive volume of people who write just as well or better, with more original ideas and so forth, and it’s pretty damn disconcerting. That might be part of your block too. It’s a lot of weight to carry.

Or, it could just be that the original reason for your writing changed. When people say they need to be depressed in order to write well, I understand, because writing used to be the best therapy in the world for me. But, after awhile, I didn’t need it for therapy, and I had to rediscover why I loved writing in the first place: I just liked to tell awesome stories that got people as excited as I did.

Anyway, enough about the possible whys, since these could be totally wrong. Here are some suggestions for you:
  • Read. One of the things that gets my writerly blood moving is reading and thinking, “I can do this better.” Sometimes it takes me forever to read a book because I very nearly rewrite the whole thing in my head.
  • One of my favorite pieces of advice is write for someone. Stephen King writes for his wife, I write for Victoria, and it might help you to write for someone. You’re still writing for yourself, but creating your perfect audience doesn’t hurt.
  • Find a fellow writer to be each others’ coaches. Talk all caps about your stories, have word wars, trade chapters, talk each other up. Get someone who loves writing as much as you do and can get you excited again.
  • Post to a writing community and ask for only positive feedback. You’re so used to your own writing ability that you might not really see it anymore. Sometimes a reminder helps us out.
  • Focus on smaller projects, such as short stories or flash fiction. WriteWorld has daily prompts to borrow from, and FYCD has things like Shipper Saturday to help you develop characters. Here’s a post on writing prompt generators.
  • Read on habits and taking care of yourself and stop thinking you’re losing your touch! Find positive outlets and don’t give up on what you love.
Good luck!

(cross-posted from KSW on Tumblr)

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