Every writer knows about the internal editor,
Your story sucks
Your writing sucks
You suck so why don’t you give it up already?
I utilize different strategies for getting past my internal editor,
but without a doubt
the most effective approach is to keep writing.
Head down, pen moving.
Guaranteed, that voice will eventually shut up.
At least for a while.
In my experience, the external editors are sometimes harder to ignore.
Marcel and Loki insert themselves into the process.
I’m fortunate enough to have R’s raspy voice as my secret weapon for keeping the nasty voices at bay. But if anyone out there still needs help getting the cranial naysayers to shut the beep up, you might want to try this approach:
AGNES by Tony Cochran (8/20/08)
I’ve written every single day for the past 36 days. And with just a couple exceptions (several days when I tinkered – over and over – with the final pages of my draft), each day I wrote 1000 words.
This new disciplined approach to my writing process has been a pleasant surprise.
It’s easier slipping into the flow.
The words come more easily.
The nasty inner critic’s voice is fading.
I’m not feeling nearly the angst and envy that dogged me this spring and early summer.
My writing muscles are stronger. Leaner.
I really and truly feel like a writer.
It finally hit me that it’s now or never time. I’m forty-five, and if I want a career as a writer I need to work at it. Every day. I can’t afford to take days off and allow my muscles to atrophy. I have to keep writing so the stories are fresh in my mind, the characters living and breathing alongside me. I have to be there for them. Every day.
As of this morning I have 5000 words of my new project which, when completed, will be my fifth novel. I like the sound of that: My fifth novel.
I’m a writer and I write novels.
I’m working on my fifth.
Last night Zippy and I, the temporarily childless couple, went to the Denver Botanic Gardens to hear Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson play. The evening was perfect. Dinner and a bottle of wine on the lawn as we listened to two extremely gifted songwriters pour out their hearts. I laughed and I cried. Loudon was coerced into performing The Acid Song (oh happy day!) and Richard sang Walking On a Wire (a song he wrote when he and his former wife/singing partner, Linda Thompson, were splitting up; Linda sang it on their album so I’ve never heard him sing it). Wow.
Earlier in the week, R’s nurse and I were discussing the frustrations of trying to get R to drink some stuff he needed to drink before having a procedure he’d agreed to have done. R was in rare form and had dug in his heels. Big time. He complained about what he couldn’t do and complained about what he wanted to do but refused to take any action that would alleviate his complaints. It was infuriating. The nurse told me she’d worked with him on a previous hospital stay and that R kind of cracked her up. I told her she had a great attitude but that his contrariness was making me want to bang my head against a wall. She said, “Don’t do that. Then you’ll have a headache AND a pain in the ass.” That really made me laugh (I was tired!) and I felt so much better. Nurses are the best.
I’ve been disciplined about my writing goals this week and hit my word count five days in a row! I’m realizing how important it is for me to establish a routine and stick to it. And yes, I’ve had this realization before and then lost sight of it along the way so I’ll probably be back here in another few months saying, “You know? It’s really helpful when I set a word count goal and then hold myself accountable to it each and every day!” Feel free to laugh when that happens.
My other cool writing-related development is that I have a new technique for handling my inner critic. Lately I’ve really been plagued with negative thinking whispered in my ear by that horrid inner creature. I guess William Faulkner’s off drinking or having sex or something because he’s not doing a very good job watching my back right now. But that’s okay because I now have an actual voice to put to that inner critic. And that voice is………………R’s voice! That’s right, folks. Whatever nastiness starts echoing in my head (You know, Tracy, this isn’t very good. No one’s going to want to read this.), I repeat aloud in R’s rasping whisper. And then I laugh! And keep writing! I totally recommend this method for thwarting your critic. Not everyone is as fortunate as me in having a near-constant negative person in my life who complains about everything in a very unique voice (his vocal chords were damaged years ago) but I’m sure you could use your father-in-law’s voice or that nosy neighbor’s or the twit at the bank the other day. Try it, you’ll like it!
Wishing everyone a glorious weekend.