Who is your inner critic? Not the thoughtful one, the editor who urges you to work harder, to reconsider that word choice. The other one, the nasty one who makes you miserable, and keeps you from doing your best work, or sometimes keeps you from writing at all.
I’ve been taking classes online at Sketchbook Skool. One of the recent workshop instructors was Marloes DeVries, who is a whimsical, thoughtful cartoonist. She asked us to draw a cartoon (or even a stick figure) that would represent the voice of our inner critic, and then write around it all the mean things it says.
I knew immediately who’d I’d draw, the awful art teacher I had at 15, whose criticism and general hatred of everything me caused such a wound that I gave up the art I’d been practicing practically since birth and didn’t pick it up again until three years ago. I can’t remember his name. But I was able to call up his face easily for the exercise.
As I’ve been teaching creativity for a couple of decades, I could see how this might be freeing, and couldn’t wait to try it. One morning, I sat in my art corner by the window with bright, clear light, and drew him, exaggeratedly. Meanly. It gave me great pleasure, I have to tell you.
Then I got to the writing down the mean things he said part, and found myself weeping giant, powerful tears. Over something that happened more than thirty years ago! 30 years! I was suddenly so furious that I slashed out those comments with verve.
How did I let that voice get so far into my head that I didn’t do something I loved madly for decades??
Because the wound was deep. Because creative people are very sensitive beings. Because it’s hard to have confidence in doing something that the world considers the realm of geniuses and fools.
Who do you think you are? [Read more…]