Honestly YA is so very pleased to welcome Bonnie Staring, a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist. She's talking about gagging the worst critic of all. Yourself. Take it away, Bonnie!
Thanks for having me!
This is so exciting, I mean, not only is it Angelina Jolie’s birthday, but I get to share something that helped me get more words on the page and live a happier existence.
I gagged my inner critic.
Now, gagging your inner critic isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s not like popping a zit, flipping a light switch or choosing which shoulder your tattoo should call home—this is a four-step process that takes a bit of work to accomplish. But it’s so worth it!
STEP 1: Hearing the voices
And no, this isn’t about sipping the crazy sauce. Your inner critic is that little voice (or voices, if you’re special) in your head that tries to turn any good situation into a bad one. It might even sound like someone you know.
The first step in gagging the sucker is to hear what your IC has to say. Here are some examples:
“Yes, you finished that manuscript, but it needs a lot of work.”
“Sure, you’re a finalist, but it’s not like you’re gonna win.”
Sometimes the Inner Critic adds a snicker for a demoralizing effect. Le sigh.
STEP 2: Acknowledge what’s being said
Sometimes it’s hard to realize what that voice is telling you when it’s being so darn annoying. Instead of reacting right away, take the time to think about what that creep has said and determine what it really means.
For the recently completed manuscript that the Inner Critic says needs a lot of work: Thank your IC for pointing out that you’re best to take some time away from it to gain a fresh perspective. That will help you make it even stronger in the revision process.
For the finalist who the Inner Critic says won’t win: Thank your IC for voicing your biggest fear and then plan a party to celebrate what you’ve already achieved. While you’re at it, prepare for the win so that you’re ready for it, just in case, and for when you’re in this type of situation again.
STEP 3: Volume countermeasures
Your IC will become testy with all this positivity flowing in your mind, so that voice might crank up the volume or the number of nasty things he or she has to say. To combat this, create a Happy File and a Positivity Mantra to help you through these times.
Your Happy File can live on your desktop or in the physical world. Simply put all those nice notes you’ve received from friends, family and perfect strangers that put a smile on your face into one place. You can also include photos and certificates of achievement to remind you of how awesome you are.
Your Positivity Mantra should be a simple sentence that you can repeat out loud or in your head (if paparazzi’s nearby) to drown out anything your IC has to say. Here are some examples:
“I have the power to transform my dreams into reality.”
“I can do this.”
“Today I will do my best.”
STEP 4: Gag them with great tunes
Now, you could go all ninja-like and tie a kimono around your IC’s mouth, or take the redneck route and use some duct tape, but the easiest way to deal with that annoying voice is to drown it out with really great tunes.
You know the songs I mean. The ones that bring a smile to your face at the first notes. The ones that make you hum along, no matter where you are. Create a “Gag the IC” playlist and ensure you have access to it whenever you’re about to do something challenging, like writing or revising that novel, or getting on the treadmill.
What about you? Do you have a neat way to gag your inner critic?
Bonnie Staring is a writer, coupon user and virtual cabana-boy wrangler. Find her online at http://bonniestaring.blogspot.com, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bonniestaring, and on Twitter @BonnieStaring