When seasoned editor Cindy Bunch decided to write a book of her own, she found that in spite of her expertise, she still struggled with negative thoughts about her own work. Frustrated and increasingly empathetic towards her writing clients, she began to use soul care practices to silence her inner critic.
Instead of ignoring the inner critic, Cindy suggests we welcome the negative thoughts, process them, and then release them. She offered hope*writers the following suggestions for quieting the inner critic and moving forward with our work.
Is there someone in your life who’s a good listener? Who supports your writing no matter what? Who always has a kind response, a great pep talk, or gentle kick in the pants? Tell them how you feel about your writing life and process those negative feelings with them. No one else knows the internal battle a writer faces with fear, discouragement, boredom, or lack of motivation. We’re the only ones who hear the lies we tell ourselves about the worthiness of our work.
A safe, supportive friend who listens and speaks kindness back to us when we share our inner battle can be the difference between a writer who keeps writing and a writer who merely dreams about it. A community like hope*writers is a great place to find a friend and share the hard stuff.
We need the support of others in our work, but let’s remember to also be a friend to ourselves. What would you say to a friend who feels discouraged in their work? Treat yourself with the same kindness you would show to a loved one who struggles with self-criticism. Self-kindness takes practice. You don’t need permission to show yourself the same courtesy and gentle course correction you’d offer someone else struggling to silence their inner critic.
As writers, we already know how much words matter and how persuasive they can be to a reader. A set of reminder cards can be a great opportunity to write words of affirmation to your writing self. Whose words do you find encouraging? Write them down!
If you’re a person of faith, you may want to write a verse on one side of the card and your thoughts or an encouraging prayer on the back. Maybe you collect quotes about creativity or writing from writers you admire — reminder cards could be a great place to keep them. Inspirational sayings, personal affirmations, and kind messages or comments from faithful readers are all creative options that can keep you company on days when you feel discouraged.
Make a list reminding yourself of all the reasons you feel compelled to write. Knowing your why will help you silence the inner critic and move forward doing the work you’re called to do. Alternatively, you might make a list completing the phrase, “I know I’m a writer because . . . ” Lists can offer positive reinforcement when we struggle to make it to the page, or they can help us release some of our frustrations with our writing life.
If you’ve already made a list of your positive reasons for writing, consider listing the five most frustrating things about being a writer or the seven reasons you feel stuck. When we put words to our thoughts, dreams, and frustrations, it can help us move forward with clarity.
Regardless of your success as a writer, silencing the inner critic is an ongoing struggle. The sooner we implement strategies to quiet the criticism, the sooner we will create space to hear the stories that want to be told through us.
Are you struggling to show kindness to your writing self? Cindy helps writers acknowledge what’s hard about the writing life and feel hope on the other side of it. Click here for free access to our entire conversation and take one step towards balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.