Today I want to talk about the inner critic that keeps us from moving forward.
We have many reasons for critiquing our own work so harshly. The biggest is fear. Fear of what, you might ask? What is it that keeps us lost in the deep dark forest with the wolves baying at our heels and prevents us doing the work we were meant to do? The answers may vary from person to person, but here are some of the top reasons:
- Fear of being judged by peers and non-peers
- Fear of being called out for making a mistake or not doing things quite right
- Fear of not being “perfect”
- Fear of being criticized because you don’t meet someone else’s exacting standard; you know, the so-called “rules”
- Fear of being considered an amateur
- Fear that people won’t care about what you express in your art or your writing
You must remember that some people are better than you. Some people are worse than you. By better or worse, I mean everyone has particular skills, special talents, backgrounds, and experiences suited to their own wants and needs.
I’ve seen this as an artist. I was always hesitant to show people my work. I could pick out every flaw: compositional, lighting, or color mistake. The funny thing is, a year later when I looked at that same painting, I couldn’t remember what that original problem was. I looked at painting and thought, “Hmm… that’s not so bad.”
I do the same with my writing. I’m not as “flowery” or poetic as another writer. Another writer does such a lovely job at descriptions and mine suck. Another writer has a real knack for showing emotion. I’m flat and have no heart!
If I publish this book, people are going to judge me and wonder why little ol’ Lynn thinks she has the right to put that drivel out in the public eye. Or, a million people have read books with the same premise, so why would they want to read mine?
I think it all comes down to our two of the most common fears. Fear of judgment and failure. We all want to look good, but we have to realize that we can’t please all the people all the time. You can’t even try; it doesn’t work. I’ve seen books that look like they’ve never been edited. They tell instead of show. They’re full of passive voice. They lack of character depth. Descriptions are poorly written. And yet, those people had the guts to follow their passion.
I’ve also discovered an important point about all this. People judge and criticize you because of their own issues and experiences. Those things have nothing to do with you. Was your mother critical of you? Did you father always tell you you would amount to nothing? Is your friend envious of your achievements? Those are their issues! Think about it: all six items in the list above have to do with what other people think.
Your job then is to express you the best way you know how and love yourself for it… and keep on practicing.