Monday motivation: The inner critic

Here you are. Sitting down to write. You spent the last few hours busying your hands with other futile tasks, dreaming of how heavenly it would be to write. Dreaming, plotting—but not doing. So here’s your chance. You’re at the computer. You have a blank page. You can fill it with all the gauzy images that danced through your mind these last few hours. Write.

Your hands are poised over the keyboards. You shift your fingers. They are positioned perfectly for the muse to speak. Like a ballerina on a dance floor, black yawning around her, a hush in the hall, waiting for the music to begin.

Oh, but what’s that? You can’t. Nothing comes out. What does rear its ugly head, however, is a loud, persistent voice.

It says you’re terrible. It says, ‘Don’t bother. Anything you put on that page won’t be good. No editing will salvage the shit you scribble.’

You shift your fingers.

Your fingers leave the keyboard. You glare at the page. You scrounge up some determination. You still want to write. But… something’s not right. Is it an outline you’re missing? Maybe you need to free write for thirty minutes.

‘No. Don’t waste your time. You’ll only make pure, undiluted drivel.’

Just a sentence, maybe?

The voice sighs, peeved. ‘Why bother?’

You don’t fight the voice. You trust it. You open Facebook and scroll for thirty minutes. Then you remember the apartment needs to be vacuumed. And the living room could do with a dusting.

So you busy yourself for another hour. You find yourself dreaming again. Wishing you didn’t have to do such menial tasks—you wager if these obstacles didn’t stand in your way, you’d have piles of pages scrawled with beautiful prose.

You look at the dust and damn it to hell. You grab the nearest notebook and open to an unsullied page. You have your favorite felt tip pen. You feel the current of inspiration whirling within you. It’s exhilarating.

Okay, now write.

‘Nah. Who are you reading right now, Capote? Yeah, you’ll never sound like him. You’re destined for terrible writing.’

You readjust the pen.

‘You’re still trying this? You suck, remember?’

You shut the notebook and return to dusting. It’s just not the right time to write. You haven’t plotted anything. Your idea needs to stew. You should age it, like cheese or wine. Hm… that’s not a bad idea, you are hungry. You head to the kitchen.

Is this ever going to stop? Will you ever get out of your own damn way? You see how cyclical this is. Listening to the voice doesn’t work. You may not have the skills you seek, but dusting isn’t going to magically make you a better writer.

This is your only option: Corner that voice. Get angry at it. Tell that voice it’s not welcome here. It’s not fooling you anymore. You can see through its mask of arrogance. You know that voice is your fear—of failure, of sucking, of never getting published, of realizing your whole life was a lie and you were never meant to be a writer, that your life has no purpose, that you should just eat cheese and drink wine all day and never leave the house because who cares no one’s going to check up on you…

*Takes a deep breath*


And write.

Clear your mind. Let the voice shrink to a whisper, and allow the words to flow. You don’t have to write the next Great American Novel. Find the joy in the process again. You know there’s contentment in creation.

You got this. Write.