Tricks for Side-Stepping the Inner Critic

The Inner Critic is the bane of every writer’s existence. In my case, she pops up occasionally to interrupt perfectly good writing flow with a host of doubts and complaints…constructing a real barrier to productivity. Like most writers, I have only a limited amount of time to spend at the page. The last thing I want to do is spend my writing time mired in self-doubt.

I’ve developed a few tricks that help me…not silence my inner critic, but fool her. When she steps in and stalls a scene, here are some strategies I’ve used to get moving again:

  1. Gather momentum: Sometimes, all I need to do is rewrite the previous paragraph or previous paragraph to move through a trouble spot. It’s like gaining momentum to get over a bump on my bicycle.
  2. Make lists: This is especially helpful when I’m trying to write a great, succint scene description. If the words won’t come, I’ll back up and start listing scene details: smells, sounds, feelings, tastes, sights, emotions evoked, first impressions, possible analogies. When I turn back to real writing, I have a pool of images from which to choose.
  3. Change tense: If I can’t write the “real” text, I can fool my inner critic by writing the scene as if I’m just prewriting. I write it in the present tense, telling what I plan to write rather than worrying about final form. It’s pretty easy to change that into prose.
The hidden price of "productivity" every writer needs to know - www.cherylreif.com

You’ve probably read the same tips I have: Have a smart phone? Check Facebook while standing in line at the post office! Respond to Twitter messages while waiting for your dentist! Catch up on your news feed while sitting on the pot! For years, I thought the path to increased productivity was to squeeze in MORE–more […]

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