Inner Critic Investigation, Day 6

Questions asked of the inner critic, archive and background:
Day 1. What’s your story?
Day 2. What are you trying to protect me from?
Day 3. What do you treasure?
Day 4. What should I be doing instead of working?
Day 5. What makes you [the inner critic] happy?

In today’s question, it’s terrifying how easily the answers came.

Day 6. What’s the worst thing you [the inner critic] have ever done?

I’ve made you settle for things and remain in situations when you were unhappy, unsatisfied, and thought you deserved better.

I made you let people string you along, whether that meant continuing to work for the guy you knew wasn’t going to pay you, or waiting on the editor who had obviously ghosted you after promises and unanswered emails.

I made you wait for months before demanding answers from another editor who strung you along before admitting their operation was going bust and they weren’t going to print your book. I’d also made you stick with them in the first place, despite their poor communication and long wait times, instead of letting you look for a different market (because it’s a miracle anyone at all wanted your work, you’d be a fool to look for anyone better).

And I also made you stick with that nightmare of a gym trainer who had no idea how to work with you and gave you all the wrong advice, even after you’ve injured your back in her program.

Because when things don’t work out for you, it’s only ever your fault. You don’t deserve better!

Inner Critic Investigation, Day 5

Only one left after this, and it’s a biggie, so I’ll be tackling it tomorrow.

Archive and background:
Day 1. What’s your story?
Day 2. What are you trying to protect me from?
Day 3. What do you treasure?
Day 4. What should I be doing instead of working?

Day 5. What makes you [the inner critic] happy?

I like it when you go with the safer option. When you pull your punches while writing, instead of going with your gut. When you stop to think about how you’re presenting yourself before you speak your mind. When you don’t jump to create once you’ve got an idea because you think you need to mull it over for longer.

When you wait for the right time, the right conditions to create. When you rewrite the same paragraph for an hour, even though it’s not for a final draft.

When you start a project and then abandon it because you think you don’t have the skills to finish. When you don’t even start on a project because you’ve been taught to never start what you may not be able to finish.

But most of all, I love it when you look at your to-do list on any given day, and put other people’s projects before your own. You’re really good at that.

…eh. When she’s right, she’s right.

Inner Critic Investigation, Day 4

As soon as I’d read this day’s prompt, my inner critic shouted “trick question!”.

Archive and background:
Day 1. What’s your story?
Day 2. What are you trying to protect me from?
Day 3. What do you treasure?

Day 4. What should I be doing instead of working?

Nothing! You should be doing nothing BUT working, knocking out two, three thousand words a day, and also blog regularly, and promote yourself on social media, and don’t forget all those comic conventions!

Write more, write fast, because you have other story ideas in your head, so get the current ones out and start new ones, faster, faster.

All this ‘working for a living’ business – screw that, you can’t possibly consider yourself a serious writer if you don’t do it full-time. Who cares if not having a steady income messes up your mental health? Art should be your life, suffer if you must, become a starving artist if you have to.

If your life is too comfortable, you’ll never create! Art must be the only worthwhile thing in your life, otherwise you’ll never be motivated!

Write, and write some more, you’re not allowed to do anything else. If you’re not working on an art project, you’re wasting your time. Every step you take must be in service of your art, of your goals, of success.

…And this, ladies and gents, is what happens when you take life-long perfectionism, add a business education, and multiply the result by a mid-twenties decision to become a writer “for real”. I think I’ve got material for another blog here: the fact that I’ve had so much more fun creating before I decided to “get serious about it.”

(Oh, and the starving artist thing? Don’t get me started. Anyway, Chuck Wendig has a good piece on that.)

Inner Critic Investigation, Day 3

Gearing up for a marathon investigation session. Much coffee will be drunk and many fists shaken at uncooperative interrogatees. (It’s a lot of work when you have to be good and bad cop at the same time.)

Archive and background:
Day 1. What’s your story?
Day 2. What are you trying to protect me from?

Day 3. What do you treasure?

Validation. Validation. VALIDATION.

Any external system of coordinates to let us know we did good, more importantly, let us know that we did RIGHT.

Grades, bonuses, awards, positive feedback, anything that gives value to your work outside of what you think, because you could be wrong. You probably are, because no-one taught you how to write, you just picked up a pen and figured stuff out on your own, came up with answers without an answer key at the back of the book, with no teacher to tell you you’re on the right track.

You know, that’s why I’m not letting you read most writing advice, or take courses. Those people sound so confident about what they do, they obviously know what they’re talking about. They must be right.

What happens if these confident, RIGHT people tell you you’ve been writing wrong this entire time???

Well, there’s that. I’ll just add that for a few years the blanket ban on writing advice and/or courses also extended to most new books. In my teenage years, I was an utter bookworm, then during the more busy and stressful years I’d mostly recycle old stories, and when I started writing seriously, I could barely read anything except Terry Pratchett. I’m still in the process of reclaiming reading for pleasure. Note to self: it would be interesting to explore my relationship with reading during one of the beats.

Inner Critic Investigation: Day 2

Catching up on Inner Critic Investigation, as I had to take some time for myself yesterday (and I’m trying not to get an earful from said critic for that, now).

Brief project summary: ask a question of your inner critic, write down everything they have to say, but only for six minutes. For question prompts, see Lucy Bellwood’s Patreon and Insta.

Archive:
Day 1. What’s your story?

Day 2. What are you trying to protect me from?

That’s an easy one, honey: failure. You know you can’t handle failure and rejection.

You still remember that C you undeservedly got on a uni paper, even though you’ve no idea anymore what course that even was. You remember the mean things that guy in your year said about your PowerPoint on baby seals.

Oh, and how about that job interview, where you breezed through stages 1 and 2, only to absolutely crash and burn on the 3rd one? Sure, you got the job in the end and aced it, but if you’re honest with yourself, which memory is more vivid: the two successful years on the job, or the interview fail?

And while we’re on the subject, need I remind you that you’ve never landed a job from a cold application? You’ve always come recommended by someone, you can’t market yourself on your own. You even had an in for your current gig, because your best friend worked on the guy’s project first.

Okay, so some of this is reaching, but I won’t deny that I royally suck at handling rejection. But hey, critic lady, I’m way ahead of you. My main objective for next year is the 100 Rejection Letters project. In addition to having a novel to send out to publishers, I’ll be pestering soooo many people for guest-blogging, I’ll rack up those rejections in no time.