Silencing Your Inner Critic:
A Write Brain Workshop Presented by Todd Fahnestock
Reported by Robin Widmar
Todd Fahnestock knows a little something about writing. As the co-author of three published novels, and sole author of a number of self-described "crappy novels," Todd has been through the ups and downs that fiction writers face. For the October Write Brain workshop, he addressed the inner critic that resides in each of us.
When writing a rough draft, Todd says you must give yourself permission to "write a crappy book." Crank up the writing machine that is you and let the writing flow. When the inner critic makes an appearance, just put him/her in a box, set the box aside and keep going. He or she can come out of the box during later revisions.
Todd asked the audience about the things that stop them from writing. All of the responses contained a measure of self-doubt, from getting bored with our own stories and rampant cycles of editing and re-editing, to worrying about the authenticity of historical details and indecisiveness over the storyline. "Doubts do not serve you" in the initial draft of a book, Todd said.
So how does a writer quell self-doubt and quiet that nagging inner critic? Todd's primary piece of advice is to WRITE EVERY DAY, and to WRITE EVERY CHANCE YOU GET. It doesn't matter how good or bad the writing is; what does matter is that you are writing something. The more you write, the better your writing will become. Better writing leads to more confidence as a writer, and it will be easier to ignore the inner critic that's trying to derail your book. You won't become a better writer simply by waiting for perfection, though. You must write. If you're not writing every day, then what are you waiting for?
According to Todd, writers can be categorized as "writers" and "waiters." Waiters wait for optimal situations before they start writing, such as:
1. Waiting for enough time to write. Todd used this one until he ran out of time and had to finish a book...
2. Waiting for the Big Idea. Big ideas are important, but they're not all-important. Keep writing, keep honing your craft, and your ideas will get bigger and better as you go.
3. Waiting for inspiration.
4. Waiting for that Big Break. If you don't have a completed manuscript, that "big break" might well pass you by.
The keys to being a writer instead of a waiter include:
- Write every day, every chance you get.
- In the first draft, don't worry about whether your idea is good or not. Ignore that voice telling you that something won't work until you're certain it won't work.
- Keep at it. Persistence leads to success.
- Give yourself the gift of failure.
As Todd puts it, "I wrote two crappy novels this year. How many did you write?"
Write every day. Write every chance you get.