Picture this: I’m proofreading a romance anthology. One of the stories is mine, and when I start reading it, I grin just the way I did when I was writing it. Because it’s funny – a short rom-com about a travel agent who thinks her one chance at love disappeared when he walked out of the cafe she was working in.
I know, I know, I might be the only person who thinks it’s funny … but my beta readers have assured me it tickled their funny buttons, so I’m feeling okay about this story. Got that “I’m not bad at this writing gig” going on. As you do sometimes.
Now picture this: It’s the next day, and I’m working on a novel manuscript. Aka rewriting.
Backtracking a little, my beta readers have told me this story is “powerful”, with “vividly drawn” characters and “a strong sense of time and place throughout”, and “the voice is beautiful”. Feedback like this is pure gold. You can imagine my shoulders straighten, the tears in my eyes, the smile on my face.
There’s always a but.
The voice still needs some work. It’s not as consistent as it needs to be.
This story is told from the eyes of a 10, nearly 11 year old girl. She’s a reader, a watcher of people, loves big words, but, sometimes, her description and her observations are a little too adult.
So here I am, reading over the ms, looking carefully at the voice. I’m making notes, deleting and adding words, even coming up with slightly different directions for scenes.
And then it happened.
The “I’m wasting my time with this writing gig” moment.
My shoulders slumped. I stared at the blur of words in front of me and thought, ‘What is this crap?”
“What if I’ve wrecked the whole thing?”
“OMG, I have wrecked it!”
“This whole thing is C.R.A.P.”
“I should just shred the whole thing and try painting.”
[bctt tweet=”It’s so easy to get stuck in an endless circle of woe.” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]
But I didn’t want that to happen this time, so this pity party ended with me pushing the ms away and seeking out my personal barista and sounding board (aka hubby).
More importantly, it ended with me telling myself not to listen to the nasty inner critic who seemed determined to knock me down.
And you know what? I didn’t listen this time.
I refused to let the “you’re crap” “voice get the better of me.
I let the “this is crap” moment pass, acknowledged that was how I was feeling, and walked away from the ms and the voice that told me it was rubbish.
It’s not always easy.
But it’s necessary.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t let that inner critic knock you down and keep you down. Don’t let it tell you you’re not good enough.” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]
Because if you keep telling yourself you’re not good enough, that belief will shape your direction in life.
It could stop you from being the person you want to be, from leading the life you want to live, from following your dreams.
Is that what you want?
Is that what I want?
I know my story isn’t crap. I know my writing doesn’t suck.
But I also know the inner critic’s voice always wants to be loudest when things get tough in the world of making story.
Here’s the thing: It’s okay to question what I’m doing – “Am I overwriting? Am I underwriting? Am I getting rid of all the best lines?” – without telling myself I’m wasting my time.
[bctt tweet=”It’s okay to be real about what you’re trying to achieve, without putting your self down.” username=”MoniqueMulligan”]
Remember, two different voices are speaking to you when you’re writing or creating … or sometimes, just being.
One is based on reality and intuition – “I need to dig deeper”, “Something’s missing here”, “What if you tried it this way?” Think of that as your inner editor, guiding you to success, asking constructive questions and not letting you settle for average.
The other, the critic, is hostile, unforgiving and destructive.
I know which voice I need to listen to for my ms to be the best it can be. For it to be published and read, which is what I dream of.
So I have to make sure one voice is weaker and one is stronger. And I know which one I’ve chosen.
Which voice are you listening to today?