It’s 5:30 AM, and my whole house is asleep. Let’s pause so I can do my happy dance. Before realizing I might have some bona fide free time to myself this morning, I had a little conversation with my inner critic (“IC”). IC usually wakes up before I do, and she starts her day by telling me what I will probably do wrong today and what I did wrong yesterday and how I will never have nice hair. She was particularly irascible today because of my recent bout with the stomach flu– she gets wicked when she gets hungry, angry, lonely, tired, or sick.
This morning, she wanted to talk to me about the novel I am writing. So far, I have written 19, 361 words (but who’s counting? Actually, both IC and I are counting). I could tell where she was going to go with the discussion this morning: it was definitely going to end with “the writing sucks so you should spend your time on Pinterest.” I let her start talking because I was too tired to fight. I made the mistake of letting IC read over the first chapter yesterday, which is similar to letting IC look at pictures of me when she’s in a bad mood– in both cases all she can do is point out things that “suck.”
At first, in the quietness of my household, I thought I would just punch IC in the face and put her in timeout. No one deserves a punch in the face like IC does. But, then I paused, because I had to pee. While I was sitting on the pot, I decided that punching IC wasn’t going to work. I had done it before and it only made her more angry and then more critical. What else could I do? I didn’t want her to ruin my writing project with her bleak adjectives. I, too, had re-read my first chapter. While it may not be worthy of this year’s Pulitzer Prize in fiction, I want to keep writing (especially since they didn’t award a PP in fiction anyway). I think the writing is a little flat, but I know three other things that console me: (1) I have plenty of time to edit and polish; (2) I AM NOT DONE YET; and (3) I haven’t even gotten to the vampires, the S&M sex scenes or the post-apocalyptic Olympic games.
But what about IC? Maybe it was the euphoria of having free time on a glorious spring morning or having digested only about 217 calories in the past two days because of the virulent stomach flu, but something emboldened me. I decided to try something new with IC. What if I tried the advice of those drippy parenting websites that instruct parents to give their over-tired toddlers a big hug and extra love when the toddlers are being complete a**holes? I have to admit it works with my kids. Maybe IC needed a hug, a snack and some space.
I tried it. I didn’t punch IC in the face. I told her that I was not in the mood for her opinions about my writing or my hair. I gave her a hug. I offered her some goldfish. I told her she could hang out with me, but she wasn’t going to be in charge of the conversations in my head today. I gave her the day off. She’s now sleeping in the hammock of my mind.
I am so glad I didn’t punch her in the face, because just like any other time I punch myself in the face, it hurts so much and accomplishes so very little.
So, what do you do with your inner critic? Hugs? Time outs? Take away her cell phone? Make her go to Zumba class?