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Tricks for Side-Stepping the Inner Critic

Cheryl's Musings: Tricks for Side-Stepping the Inner Critic

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


Tricks for Side-Stepping the Inner Critic

The Inner Critic is the bane of every writer's existence. In my case, she pops up occasionally to interrupt perfectly good writing flow with a host of doubts and complaints...constructing a real barrier to productivity. Like most writers, I have only a limited amount of time to spend at the page. The last thing I want to do is spend my writing time mired in self-doubt.

I've developed a few tricks that help me...not silence my inner critic, but fool her. When she steps in and stalls a scene, here are some strategies I've used to get moving again:

  1. Gather momentum: Sometimes, all I need to do is rewrite the previous paragraph or previous paragraph to move through a trouble spot. It's like gaining momentum to get over a bump on my bicycle.
  2. Make lists: This is especially helpful when I'm trying to write a great, succint scene description. If the words won't come, I'll back up and start listing scene details: smells, sounds, feelings, tastes, sights, emotions evoked, first impressions, possible analogies. When I turn back to real writing, I have a pool of images from which to choose.
  3. Change tense: If I can't write the "real" text, I can fool my inner critic by writing the scene as if I'm just prewriting. I write it in the present tense, telling what I plan to write rather than worrying about final form. It's pretty easy to change that into prose.


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