- Who is that critic living inside your head?
- What are you attempting to do right now, but you're afraid to take the first step because the critic threatens you with public failure?
- What or who has you feeling stuck or blocked?
When I first started publishing 30 years ago, I had quite a crowd of critics roaming around my head. I'd been told I couldn't write for many years.
From elementary through high school teachers consistently red inked 'run on sentences' across my papers. No one ever told me what a 'run on sentence' was or how to fix it. I just knew it was wrong.
In college I was forced to take 'bonehead english' my first year, further confirming my perceived lack of writing skills. The very aged school marm who taught the class would soon form a perfect visual for all the other critics in my head.
It didn't help she had a hearing aid that constantly failed. Even though the student she asked to to spell a word like 'cat', spelled it correctly, she couldn't hear it and shouted out, 'NO!', while pointing to the next person to spell it. Hair pulled back in a bun, glasses hanging on the end of her nose, pursed lips and pinched brow, she easily moved to the head of the critic's class inside my head.
Paint a Caricature of Your Critic
I know, I know ~ that school marm image sounds too cliche to be true. But it's true!
See what you find when you take a look at the faces and posturing of the critics in your own head. Chances are they're cliche too ~ strict, heavy pinched brows, face pinched in scowl and disapproval ~the expert ready to shoot down your great ideas or show you exactly where you're wrong and misguided.
To kick the critics out of your head you need to show them for the ridiculous characters they are. Paint a picture of the full caricature with as much embellishment as you can muster, then have a good laugh. Make a list of comments you'd like to say to your critics face to face ~ comments you'll never say, but comments it sure feels good to think about saying. Now kick them out of your head.
Kick the Critic out of Your Head!
I learned a little secret from speaking before audiences and writing for readers. You can just as easily conjure up a clear picture of your friendly, interested audience to replace your off-putting critics. Imagine who would be interested in your idea, and create with them in mind.
Go one step further and zero in on the face of one person you know would give you a friendly reception, and replace your critic with your new confidant. Make the friendly, interested confidant's image as strong as your critic's was ~ only much nicer!
Befriending My Dragon
In my early years of writing I adopted a ceramic confidant to cheer me on. A friend gifted me this ceramic dragon that looked down on me from his perch above my workstation. With his kind eyes and paws resting on his potbelly he looked at me as if to say, 'And what else would you like to to say?' He was always a great listener, and he never criticized or made fun of my ideas. He knew I would always find the right way to communicate my ideas all by myself. I just needed to lighten up.
Find Motivating Mentors
As a toddler, my daughter, Tracy, was afraid of sleeping in a dark room by herself. One night she called out, "Mommy, I need you NOW." When I went to her room with Ginger, the dog I said, "Here, let Ginger sleep with you." She quickly replied, "NO! I need someone with skin!"
If like Tracy, you need 'someone with skin' to sit with you (a ceramic dragon just won't do), consider what person could mentor or coach you. Like the ceramic dragon, your mentor doesn't need to give you feedback. Your mentor needs to listen. You have all the great ideas in your head. You just need to lighten up to let them out.
Life as a Run-on Sentence
I have learned what a run-on sentence is ~ and now I realize I live my life as a run-on sentence ~ one activity running into another ~ without commas or periods between. It's okay. I like it that way. I can accept my tendencies and laugh at them instead of letting them block my good energy.
Our lives are movie pictures not static snapshots. Just because at a point in time we need to learn how to do something like write, speak, or use new technology, it doesn't mean we can't learn how to do it and become proficient in it. Choose to become great at whatever it is you are passionate about.
Get those critics out of your head so you can regain a sense of flow in engaging with the world around you.