Writing Advice: Your Inner Critic

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One of the biggest pieces of advice that veterans of National Novel Writing Month will tell you is that you need to ignore your inner critic/inner editor for the month. If those voices are constantly telling you that you need to change things in what you’ve written, you won’t be able to move forward in the writing challenge. Of course, this is difficult for many people. That inner critic or editor can easily become the dominant voice in your head when writing and derail your project. Don’t let it do this! Don’t let the inner critic or editor take over your thought process and keep you from writing.

Recently on the Write Anything blog, blogger Dan Powell wrote an article about the writer Anton Chekhov and his struggle with the inner editor or critic. If nothing else, this post helps you see that all writers — even the famous and successful ones — deal with this problem. It’s not just you. Sometimes it helps just to know that other writers struggled before you and tread on the same ground you’re traversing now. At the end of the post, Powell includes a piece of advice from Chekhov, which reads, “Write as much as you possibly can! Write, write, write…..,until your fingers break under the strain.”

This is, in my opinion, the best advice that anyone could possibly give a writer. Not only is it great advice for someone trying to write 50,000 words in 30 days, it’s also just great advice for writers in general. If you think of this a certain way — that more writing will just mean more material for your inner critic to latch on to — I’d advise you to think differently. Instead, think of yourself as a shark who needs to keep moving forward to stay alive (or, in this case, put more words on the page). If you go fast enough and just keep writing rather than thinking about it, your inner critic won’t have time to catch up.

Good luck & happy writing!

— Jet Fuel Editor, Mary Egan

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