Note: This is a guest post by Jered Slusher of Copper Copy
Everywhere I go, I have this little green monster telling me what I should and should not do. The monster criticizes everything and tells me that if I want to be the very best I have to avoid certain things, and embrace others. He tells me to shave and to brush my teeth so that I look presentable. He also tells me to avoid picking my nose because it’s embarrassing. This can be overwhelming at times, especially when he tells me how to write.
Yes. This ugly monster happens to be my inner critic. And just now, as I sat down to write this article, he jabbed his elbow into my neck and told me that I had to start this article off just perfect. “You’ve got to hook the reader,” he says, “grab the reader’s attention.”
All the time he pokes and prods. “That comma doesn’t belong there… You shouldn’t use the passive voice… Why on earth would you phrase that sentence like that?”
He’s so frustrating, so demanding, he exhausts me to the point where I can’t write anymore and I feel like running and jumping off a cliff.
And it’s not just when I sit down to write articles. It’s when I sit down to journal too. He’s sitting there waiting to critique my every move, pounce at the slightest opportunity to tell me I’m wrong. A lot of times I listen because I don’t want to feel like an idiot or look stupid. But then again, I did tell you that a little green monster follows me around.
Well, if we want to become stronger writers and get the most out of our journaling, we’ve got to stop this monster now. Allowing the inner critic to stifle our journal writing is extremely damaging to our personal development. If we get hung up on backspacing, revising, and editing as we journal, we’re really just feeding the inner critic to get stronger and better at revising, editing, and backspacing our thoughts as well.
So how do we get rid of this annoying little monster so we can start focusing on the real issues at hand?
We poke his eyes out… literally and figuratively…
Well, that may sound violent, but it’s true. The secret to good journaling is to get rid of the inner critic’s ability to see what the heck is going on. What results is what we highly sophisticated and jargon prone writer’s have coined blind journaling.
To partake in this highly effective personal development project, all you have to do is set a timer for five to ten minutes, sit down at the computer, shut your eyes and start writing. Write whatever comes to mind as quickly as possible. Perhaps instead of shutting your eyes you can turn the monitor off, but whatever the case may be you should not review what you’ve already written during the time you’re writing.
The key to this is to not think about what you’re writing, but to write out your thoughts as they occur to you. Because you are blind, you are not allowed to edit your thoughts in any way. You may find it beneficial to pause and to think about a specific situation that interests you, but the goal should be to compose as much as possible without letting your inner critic intervene.
After you’re done blind journaling, it may help to go back and review what you’ve written. Expand upon an idea that catches your eye. Ask yourself questions about what you’ve written and perhaps why it is important to you.
This type of journaling is most beneficial because it gets you thinking primarily about ideas and allows you to take chances by not letting anything influence what you write. By disabling your inner critic, you enable your ability to reflect upon the world in meaningful ways without being distracted by that limiting little monster.
If done correctly, the ultimate result is that you will relieve yourself of the traditional inhibitions that most writers have when journaling. Instead of thinking about what others will think of you, you are engaging in a truly individual and organic experience that is focused on your ideas, rather than harshly judging your writing ability or ideas.
Whatever you do, don’t let the overly critical little green monster win.
Jered Slusher is the editor of CopperCopy.com and is also a Senior English Major at The Ohio State University. Jered has worked with hundreds of clients to help them improve their communication and business skills to achieve their goals. For more information on how to improve your writing, visit http://www.coppercopy.com
Photo by fotographix.ca
This is a great idea. I don’t have too many problems with my inner critic writing articles etc, but when I have tried to write fiction, all I can hear is that critical voice berating my efforts.
Actually last year, to silence my inner critic, I took part in national novel writing month (nanowrimo). The need to write so much in a short time meant the inner critic had to be suppressed.
I’m going to try your idea out! Nice post!
A pretty intriguing idea I must admit. I think I will try this out (the monitor off one) and see what happens.
Thanks for your post,
As far as I understand writers call this kind of writing ‘Stream of Consioussness’ and indeed it isn’t alway’s easy to do without ‘Green Monsters’ 🙂
The writing you describe also looks a little as – what I know under the name – ‘Free Form Writing’ a way of writing especially designed to get in contact with your ‘Unconsioussness’. It works like this, you ask a question, for example about something that is bothering you, and than simply begin Free Form Writing, just writing down things that pop up into your mind, without any editing just keep on writing.
and than later you can have a look at it and summarise or organise it.
You can find more info about writing and a lot of great resources for writers at:
All the Best,
To your Happy – Writing – Inspiration,
P.S. feel free to write
compelling comments on blogposts.
I enjoyed your article, and @kaizan’s way of defeating the beast through action. I also wrote a similar post @ my other blog http://www.stephenborgman.com, called Defeating The Gremlin
Conscious steam of writing is a great way to allow your thoughts to flow naturally. Don’t allow the inner critic to shove your genius ideas aside like expired milk. Believe in your intuition as your writing come to pass. Feel free to stop and edit your information ,but don’t criticize your ideas to the point of anxiety and depression.
Believe in your self through positive thinking. Positive thinking creates an optimistic mindset which allows you to see the glass as half full instead of half empty. Work hard and keep your mind clear of inner criticism. Its sure to pay off!
Interesting article, I’ll give this a shot…my inner critic has big mouth and needs to be shut down – thanks
I really appreciate and agree with the points expressed over here. Thanks for such nice thoughts.
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