Dealing With The Inner Critic

There is a long and storied tradition that writers have to be tortured or crazy. Or any sullied variation that deals with being plagued by demons of all sorts.

I know plenty of writers that this holds true for. I think I know of a couple where this doesn’t.

But I’m not really here to talk about them. And you’re not here to read about them. Or, maybe you are. I’m not sure. There is a slight chance that you happened upon this blog by mistake. And, that’s OK. I get it. Happens to the best of us.  I have shelves full of un-opened Scentsy bars for a similar reason. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Here’s the deal, though. Eh.

Or is it?

I struggle with this sometimes. I struggle with how real I want this blog to actually be. I think the danger of someone actually finding out I’m human has decreased significantly since I left Facebook. There was a time in the not so distant past when I would bare my soul, or at least the part of it that I don’t mind sharing with the world. I would come up with some clever title for it and I would put that out there on the book of face. And some of you would see it. I think I got over 200 views on a post or two. It helped me feel like someone was actually reading my stuff, or caring about me as a person. Or both. Both? Both. Both is good.

Not, that’s not to say that I don’t have people in my life who think I’m human or people who care for me. If that was your takeaway, please. Don’t be silly. I know better. Most of the time.

Yeah, most of the time.

There are times, though, where things don’t seem to fire quite right up there in the old brain bucket and I feel like in a crowd of a thousand people, I am alone in the universe.  That feeling usually doesn’t last. I’m a lucky son of a bitch because my best friend is my roommate. And she has this knack for helping me get out of my own way. She usually doesn’t know when she does it and when I thank her she gives me this weird, confused look and the conversation usually ends with one of us being called a dork. Spoiler alert—it’s usually me.

I overthink things. A lot. I learned not too long ago that that is actually a side effect of the general anxiety disorder that I have. Oh.I also learned that I have a general anxiety disorder. The hard part is knowing that this happens and finding myself unable to stop it.

Take today for example. Before I went to bed last night, I made a list of things I wanted to do on Sunday, including some people that I wanted to spend time with. I got up, had breakfast, and prepared to set out. I hit the remote start on the car, grabbed my stuff and headed out.   When I got to the car, I noticed that it wasn’t running. No big deal. Happens sometimes. I know that the 10 minutes runtime that the car gives you before you have to put the key in can sometimes go quicker than I think. Got in, put the key in, and turned the starter.

The car made the sound of an asthmatic yeti and still did not start. I tried several more times, to no avail.  There was much cursing. This, apparently, also does not contribute to resolving problems of a mechanical nature.

The day was going off the rails, and quickly. People were notified, plans were cancelled. I found a battery charger in the garage (because damn near everything is in the garage, or in one of the many closets in this house. If I didn’t know better, I’d say J.K. Rowling herself fashioned the Hogwarts Room of Requirements after the many closets and garage of the Gallifrey Annex.

I digress. I connected the charger, after making sure I wasn’t going to blow up the car.  Insert some additional cursing. Again, no mechanical miracle borne of fitfully thrown obscenities. I checked 10 minutes later and the asthma seemed to be a better, but the car still wouldn’t start.

I made a grocery list. Hey, don’t judge me. Oddly enough, I find grocery shopping with a list resets my noodle. I make a list of things. I put the estimated prices of said things. I then go grocery shopping with the fervor of a Price Is Right contestant.

I borrowed the roomie’s car and hit the grocery store.

Today was a good day. With what I had on my list, I estimated that I would spend $100 of my $100 budget for this pay-period’s groceries. I came in at $89. Not too shabby. Oh, sure, I was over, so I would have lost the Showcase Showdown, but that’s OK. I definitely would have made it that far.

If you’ve made it this far and are wondering what this all has to do with the Inner Critic, you’re in luck, because I’m about to tell you.

Not much.

No, ok. That’s not quite true. It has more to do with the overthinking and the hard time I have with making plans and having them go sideways.

I get that there are things I can’t control. And I get that there are things that I need to learn to let go.

Logically I get all of that.

But today went sideways with a big side of fuck you. Consequently nearly everything I had on my list to work on today is just chilling. I might get to some of it tomorrow after work. I might not.

And that’s OK.

The important thing is that I’m writing. I had a goal this month of getting some words in every day. If they were part of the work in progress, cool. A blog post? Awesome. Tweets? OK I guess, but I’m probably not counting it toward my word count goal.

So, here we are. Groceries put away. And the car has had 3 hours to charge.

I start it…more wheezing, as it is about to give its death rattle, I give it some gas. And then some more. I give it enough gas that the exhaust is a little angry with me (and now the mystery of why my throat feels raw is not such a mystery now).

And it stays running.

I let it run for a bit and then decide to take it to my local auto place to see if they can run diagnostics on the engine. They can. For a fee. And it might not be today. That doesn’t work for me. I head back to the car and cross my fingers.

It starts right up.

And it does so for about 8 more times. It’s as though nothing happened.

Sure, I’m pleased. The day is still spun sideways, but I’m feeling a little better.

Until I see the writing calendar on my wall. There’s a big fat nothing on the day for yesterday.

And here’s where the inner critic, and perhaps some personal wisdom come into play.

I know that if let another day go without putting down any words, then it will become easier to not write. You see, at the moment, it’s kind of hard to not write. I need to write. I need to let those thoughts, disjointed and cracked-out though they may be, I still need to put them on the page.

That inner critic was waiting for me to skip another day. I mentioned something about not hitting my words yesterday to my roomie and she said, with no hint of judginess, “So? Yesterday was Saturday. Give yourself one day off a week.”

Makes sense. And it helped spin the day back around.

And here we are. Thing about that inner critic is this. They usually don’t know shit. Find yourself someone whose opinion you trust more than the opinion of your inner critic.

It can make all the difference in the world as far as your creative endeavors are concerned.

The other thing I’m trying to be better about is sleep. So, with that my friends, I bid you a good evening.


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