When I tried to do creative writing when I was in my teens and twenties my inner critic would always be there, telling me my work sucked and making me promise not to try this ever again. Currently I'm writing a novel (the first draft of which can be found elsewhere on the site with new episodes added all the time), and I was kind of worried about meeting my inner critic again. When it happened the encounter went quite well, actually.
After re-reading episodes 1 to 22 I made the following notes:
- I found it easier to re-read my own work than I used to;
- I don't like the interrogation room scene;
- too many ghosts and ghoulies coming out of the woodwork;
- quite a lot of stuff happens that doesn't move the story forward;
- the pacing is off (every 24 hours in the hero's life are narrated in 2000+ words. This doesn't allow for a subjective sense of time where some events last forever but days may go by in a haze)
Now, after finishing episode 26 I would add:
- this time around the story feels reasonably fast-moving to me, and I disagree with the "quite a lot of stuff happens that doesn't move the story forward" comment;
- this time around the pacing doesn't bother me;
- some developments and scene changes are very abrupt. They need more introduction to help the reader understand what's going on
So, what did I learn from this?
- I can survive a meeting with my inner critic with my self-confidence intact. For me, that's a big one;
- in 'On Writing' Stephen King recommends to keep the writing and editing processes very much separate, with a cooling-down period of at least six weeks in between. Everything I've learned so far confirms the validity of that;
- I need to write the story in order to find out who my characters are and what happens to them. I can't do that with my inner critic breathing down my neck all the time;
- years ago someone told me that there's a form of Yoga where, if a sound bothers you while you're meditating, you just tell yourself "this is hearing" and let it go, rather than trying to ignore the sound or concentrating on something else. A similar approach might help in dealing with the inner critic. You don't make any changes to your draft. Instead you make a list of every point of criticism that comes up when reading your work, and you keep it around for when you start editing;
- what struck me was that, when re-reading the draft for the second time a few days later, I had issues with different things than I did the first time. My inner critic may not be infallible after all.
This article was started after writing episode 22 and finished after after writing episode 26 of the first draft of my novel After the War.
After the War (22)
After the War (26)
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