He’s my ever-present internal critic and, like many writers (and non-writers, I suppose), getting him out of my head takes a 2x4 and a bear-size can of pepper spray.
He serves a purpose, of course. He keeps me from publishing dribble. Sometimes. But mostly he undermines my self-confidence.
My book is being submitted to publishers. Did I mention that? I have wonderful new agents, Fran Black and Jennifer Mishler of Literary Counsel, and they started contacting editors about Delilah and her crew. Great, right? Yes. But a few days ago, I was droning on to my eight-year-old (the only one in my house - besides the dogs - who listens) about being pragmatic and not getting hopes up and all that and he stopped me right in my tracks.
“Mom,” he said. “Why do you always do that?”
“Say good things probably won’t happen.”
Before I could respond, he went on. “It’s like I said to <eight-year-old school chum>, look, if you don’t have confidence in yourself, you’ll NEVER be Justin Bieber’s girlfriend.”
Damn, he was right.
While being Justin Bieber’s girlfriend is not high on MY list – not my type and I’d prefer to stay out of prison – confidence is the foundation of anything. If you don’t believe in the product, if you can’t face the world and say you are worthy of whatever it is you’re aiming for, then who else will?
I was talking to a friend recently. He’s found the courage to move to NYC, get a new job, make a whole new life for himself, and now he does improv. Who knew? I asked him how he found the self-confidence to try acting - and on the fly like that, in front of so many strangers. He said the hardest part is getting up on that stage – the confidence follows.
Also good advice.
And I can think of other examples, friends who put themselves out there on social media or who have self-published fantastic books or who do stand-up comedy or play in a band on weekends or paint. All inspiring.
So with writing, perhaps the trick is to sit down and beat that critic back with my handy 2x4, so that I can at least not stop before I even begin. Get up on the stage (blank computer screen, in case I’m being obtuse) and let the creative process have a chance. Then let the critic out of his invisible cage for a minute or two while editing before handing the end product out to the world.
I, too, can be Justin Bieber’s girlfriend.
My critic is still there, of course. But I’m getting better at silencing him. I wrote this post – and that’s a start.