1. Webster
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    Webster Senior Member

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    Your Inner Critic

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Webster, May 30, 2013.

    How easy is it for you to take a step back and assess what you've written in a detached, rational manner?

    Have you ever resisted making necessary changes, only to later regret your stubborn ways?

    Is there ever a time you need to tell your Inner Critic to shut up, or must he/she be on active duty constantly, night and day? Perhaps it depends on how much you think about writing...

    My Inner Critic is my best (though never infallible) defence against the Outer Critics. I want him to be a big, mean, son of a gun. I want him to be a real pit bull.

    How about yours? I guess poodles can be vicious too... Just remember: Those rejection emails are going to wear you down after a while.

    Finally, and most interestingly, how does one go about cultivating their IC? My pit bull will take on all-comers, but can I get him to fetch my newspaper? Can I heck!

    And as you can see in the post below, at times he fails me completely, leaving me wide open to ridicule and wishing I hadn't so heavily belaboured the bloody metaphor in the first place.

    I'd like make an adjustment, if that's okay? I should have termed it the 'Inner Literary Critic.' The difference is quite relevant. Just plain ol' Critic carries negative connotations. Literary criticism is a venerable discipline. A good ILC will help assess your work as you're going along, and be able to tell you if your readers are going to enjoy what you've written, along with a whole host of other functions (Are your philosophical assertions sound? What about that metaphor? I think you're kinda whipping it like a dead horse, my friend") I'm guilty of beating myself up over errors too, but that perhaps more has to do with ego and self confidence than it does with clear-eyed literary judgements.

    Anyway, apologies for not clearing that up sooner. This is my first ever thread. I really am trying make it interesting for everyone...
     
  2. ECKS
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    ECKS Member

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    Not very.

    Yes!

    Yes, I hate that fucking guy.

    I've lost too much music, writing, and drawings because of this ham-fisted buffoon.
    We usually get along great, but sometimes... sometimes I just want to... :mad:

    The worst is when someone points out something, that you thought was bad and was going to take out.
     
  3. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    where the mind is without fear...
    All the things that I read be it newspaper, novels, stories, or articles about writing, the critiques that I do of others' works, the writers' interview I read or hear, all these are ways I cultivate my IC. You know what, I am developing a deep respect for my IC, and that's giving me more confidence as a writer.
     
  4. Webster
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    Webster Senior Member

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    There's always the danger of freezing up from too much self-policing. My output would be a hell of a lot greater if I hadn't been such a bastard to myself in the past. I started out with an over developed IC, and only recently have started to give slightly less of damn :)
     
  5. Ian J.
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    Ian J. Active Member

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    I don't think my inner critic is aggressive enough at the moment. But even if 'he' was, I'd still have to consider my IC to be part of a partnership for getting a book to be the best it can be, not as 'someone' to get annoyed at.
     
  6. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    I have a system by which I classify problems. I look through, and first look for plot holes. then I have my wife look for plot holes. then, I take it to my local community college to the English/lit professors with whom I am friends. I ask all of them to look JUST for plot holes. then repeat the process for flow, grammar and clarity instead of taking on all problems at once.
     
  7. joelee
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    joelee New Member

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    This always relaxes me if I ever have doubts about my ability:
    Dubliners by James Joyce was rejected 22 times before being published and even then only 1,250 copies were printed. 379 sold in the first year of which Joyce himself bought 120.
     
  8. Webster
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    Webster Senior Member

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    Aw shucks, I was just having fun anthropomorphising my metaphorical mutt. Your's can be a he/she/it, a macaque or a mamba, whatever you feel at any given moment. Visualisation is what we do, isn't it? For instance, as I was typing the above, I told Floyd to play in the garden because he kept barking at me to stop wasting my time on people who can't be bothered closely reading my hypotheticals. Unlike myself, he knows full well that people are generally disinclined to read anything too closely.
    If I have Floyd neutered, will he become a she or an it? Or maybe he'll just disappear...
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think my inner critic is bipolar. One day, happy as larry, every word is perfect, tra la la, the next day, omigod, good, here comes the garbage truck now. And the next, back to tra la la. I keep trying to do the actual edit when I'm in the middle of that swing!
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    very

    no

    no
    me and my IC are one and the same

    i don't think about writing... i just write...

    see above...

    that's just part and parcel of being a writer... no big deal...

    no clue... mines always been there... could be the result of being a nit-picky virgo...


    what 'post below'?
     
  11. Webster
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    Webster Senior Member

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    You're a nit picky Virgo? Hi nit picky Virgo, I'm hellishly analytical Virgo. Nice ta meetcha! :D
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    'Ello, Virgos! I'm an obsessively interested in everything for exactly 15 minutes Pisces. ;)
     
  13. Webster
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    Webster Senior Member

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    Is that the more cockney-than-cockney Dick Van Dyke? I've always wanted to meet you, old chum!
     
  14. nastyjman
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    nastyjman Contributing Member

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    I would need about two weeks or more to get myself detached from my work. After finishing a draft, your mind and imagination is still hot, blind from faults since you're attached to the work. Cool off. Taking time off from the story will freshen you up and blur the story. The blurrier it is, the better. I think this is a good method in developing your critical eye.

    Once you come back to it with a critical eye, you'll see those necessary changes popping out of the paper (or screen) like a white, plump pimple. Nothing else to do but pop it. Who is working here? Not your inner critic but your inner editor (totally my opinion, though). I like to distinguish the critic from the editor. In my connotation, a critic chastises your piece, to a point where you become dispirited. An editor suggests changes, improvements, helping you rather than drag you down. The critic would say, "What an awful sentence you wrote!" while the editor "what can you change to make it better and more effective?"

    In no way should your inner critic control your writing, be it the first or succeeding drafts. Be the writer on the first draft, be the editor on the next ones.
     
  15. Ashes
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    Ashes New Member

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    The words on my screen are only a means to an end and I'll do whatever is necessary to make them tell the story.
     
  16. Keitsumah
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    Keitsumah The Dream-Walker Contributor

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    My inner critic is always on, though as i am still learning the basic faults in writing (namely the "-ly"'s always get me) it is useful to me in other ways. I am a HUGE mental organizer. One time i was working on chapter 40 in my book, and i hadn't touched the first few chapters in over two weeks, and as i got to thinking about it i realized that i had made one character do something that would clash later on. Just two words- two words that i caught because they had that power to affect my writing.

    I think of my inner critic as a bloodhound now, sniffing out all the little plot details that i need to tweak.
     
  17. Aprella
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    Aprella Senior Member

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    My inner critic and I are not friends.
    Sometimes when my inner critic turns on, I cannot write any more and I have the feeling every sentence is crappy. Unfortunately it isn't so easy to turn it of. So I try to keep it turned off during the first writing phase else I don't think I'll manage to write a whole book. It is still something I have to learn to control, I suppose.
     
  18. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I guess I have an inner critic, but I don't think of him that way. He's my creative partner. We happily work together. To use a musical analogy, I'm the composer and he's the arranger. If we both do our jobs well, we end up with good music.

    Actually, that musical analogy doesn't work beyond a certain point, and that point isn't very far along. I suppose it's better to say that I start things and he finishes them. He's more of a stickler for detail than I am and I'm more of a fountain of ideas than he is. The fun thing is that we're both on the job at the same time. I don't write a whole manuscript and then turn it over to him; instead, he hangs over my shoulder every sentence and every paragraph, straightening out the twisted syntax, striking out the crap, and adding the pizzazz.

    We high-five each other a lot.
     
  19. Webster
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    Webster Senior Member

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    I'd like make an adjustment, if that's okay? I should have termed it the 'Inner Literary Critic.' The difference is quite relevant. Just plain ol' Critic carries negative connotations. Literary criticism is a venerable discipline. A good ILC will help assess your work as you're going along, and be able to tell you if your readers are going to enjoy what you've written, along with a whole host of other functions (Are your philosophical assertions sound? What about that metaphor? I think you're kinda whipping it like a dead horse, my friend") I'm guilty of beating myself up over errors too, but that perhaps more has to do with ego and self confidence than it does with clear-eyed literary judgements.

    Anyway, apologies for not clearing that up sooner. This is my first ever thread. I really am trying make it interesting for everyone...
     
  20. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Not a problem. Mastered it a long time ago. But as I get older, I am finding it more difficult to keep the critic in me at bay until I've completed my first draft.

    Once I've decided that the changes are necessary, no, not at all. What does cause me some angst at times is coming to a decision. In my current project, I've made three false starts to one chapter, all because I couldn't make a decision. Very unlike me, and I took it as a sign that I needed to take a short break from the project, which I did. Now, I am back at it.

    Only when she - funny that I think of my Inner Critic as female while I am male, isn't it? - butts in while I'm working on a first draft (see above).

    Absolutely not. The best critics are those who are direct, forthright and honest, but there's no need to get huffy about things. We have a deal - we are always civil to one another. No reason to be otherwise.

    Go to the appropriate section of this forum and start critiquing others. As in all other aspects of writing, we learn critique by doing.

    Good luck.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are two inner critics. One is a raving Danny Downer, the other is your best possible friend.

    Danny Downer says things like, "This sucks. Go back to finger painting, you talentless hack!" or, "The harder you try, the worse you get. Scrap it and start over. Or not."

    Your other critic may he harsh, too, but he tries to guide you to improve. "This passage serves no purpose. Lose it," or "This character is completely uninteresting, she needs something to make her stand out from the rest."

    Sometimes it's not easy to tell them apart, but Danny Downer will never tell you anything you can use to make your writing better. He'll just tell you to give up. So to him you say, "Shut the fuck up!" He's as useful as a styrofoam boat anchor.
     
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  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    backatcha, av!

    from your choice of avatar, i'm thinking we also may share a similar pov about our poor benighted world...
     
  23. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Your avatar, mammamaia, is either a picture of an asteroid hitting the Earth, or a picture of a blue bird looking to the right wearing a hat with a glowing brim. Whenever I consider how benighted out poor world is, I think of the second interpretation and smile.

    :)
     
  24. Webster
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    Webster Senior Member

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    I thought yours was a weirdly shaped speed boat... Looking more closely I can see now that what I thought was the wake is in fact Earth. I need to lay off the wine. Yet another instance of my inattentiveness leading me astray... :D
     

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