Countering the inner critic

Each Wednesday, I try to attend an online workshop – the Writing Hour – hosted by Syrian-American spoken word poet Amal Kassir. She’s currently working through the theme of the inner critic (based loosely around Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way” – which I’ve not read, but should at some point as I’ve consistently heard good things about it).

It’s a theme that’s played heavily on my heart and mind in recent years, as you’d see from these posts:

Anyway, so last week, it was all about describing that inner critic. And this week, the session delved into our core negative beliefs – specifically around our writing.

And though the output is very helpful for me internally, I’d like to share my notes here so that perhaps the points will help someone else who suffers from the same insecurities.

Prompt 1: List your fears / core negative beliefs you have about yourself as a writer

  • My writing is too serious. Not fun. Not light-hearted. The topics are too heavy for people.
  • My writing doesn’t capture the imagination. It’s not eloquent. It’s not descriptive enough, because I have only a weak ability to paint a picture with words. It’s not emotive enough. It’s actually amateur, when compared to far more eloquent and accomplished writers.
  • My writing is irrelevant. Nobody cares about what I write. My words make no impact in people’s lives. They prefer content by other people. Stuff that speaks more to them. Not my material.
  • My writing is repetitive in themes and topics. I tend to say the same thing – conceptually – over and over at times.

The discussion then moved on to a fight against those negativities:

Prompt 2: Write a positive affirmation to counter the core negative beliefs

  • Belief: My writing is too serious. Not fun. Not light-hearted. The topics are too heavy for people.
    • Affirmation / response:
      Writing serves different purposes. Your output is beneficial for those who need those words.
  • Belief: My writing doesn’t capture the imagination. It’s not eloquent. It’s not descriptive enough, because I have only a weak ability to paint a picture with words. It’s not emotive enough. It’s actually amateur, when compared to far more eloquent and accomplished writers.
    • Affirmation / response:
      To hit a nerve – to impact people – doesn’t necessarily need literary eloquence nor emotional language. Authenticity, vulnerability, sincerity are all incredibly important key ingredients in producing impactful work. And you already put that into much of your writing.
  • Belief: My writing is irrelevant. Nobody cares about what I write. My words make no impact in people’s lives. They prefer content by other people. Stuff that speaks more to them. Not my material.
    • Affirmation / response: The feedback you receive from people – especially the comments (on any platform) – proves otherwise. You shouldn’t expect feedback – don’t expect to see people saying your work impacted them. But know that what people do express – even if that’s far less than what you expect / hope for – is a sign that you are actually impacting people. That your work is relevant to them. Your words do touch them. Maybe it doesn’t hit most of them, but it still hits some. And to be able to connect to another person’s soul through your words – words that came from your heart – is a blessing: a beautiful gift you’ve been blessed with.
    • So, don’t expect anything. But just do what you do. And pray for it to impact those who can benefit from your work.
  • Belief: My writing is repetitive in themes and topics. I tend to say the same thing – conceptually – over and over at times.
    • Affirmation / response: You write based on what you feel and know. And yes, there are recurring themes and topics. But that just means that these are things that are important to you.
    • As for repetition, who’s to say that you should never repeat yourself? Who’s to say that every new thing you produce must be totally new…novel? It’s a trap of the consumer culture – where we just want new things…more…different. But that’s an unrealistic and greedy mindset. It’s a culture of being spoilt with never-ending excitement…entertainment. New…new…new. It’s unhealthy, because it sows the seeds of discontent when that desire for newness is not met.
    • Still on the point of repetition, are there not different ways of conveying a message? Even within writing – or the realm of words (e.g. writing vs spoken word) – the way you say something can differ, but convey the same message / effect. You can convey a message using two different stories. The words differ. The storyline differs. The emotional journey of your audience differs. But you ultimately deliver the same core message. One story will impact one person, but may have no impact on the next. That next person may need another story…and that other story will impact them. Humans are diverse in so many ways. So, you just produce what you produce, and different versions / styles of it will impact different people. The important thing is that the core message is still being conveyed. And that is the goal: to convey that core message.

The Writing Hour is open to people of all faiths (not just Muslims), and if you’d like to watch this week’s episode (and write along at your own pace), you can find it here: https://www.instagram.com/tv/CfHX0OzBPQ6/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

I hope it’s helpful 😊.

Image source

4 thoughts on “Countering the inner critic

  1. Write because your soul invites, because it calls you to write. Because it gives you joy. Because enthusiasm means in the God who made you a writer.

  2. I’ll have to take a look at this, thanks for pointing the way Yacoob – we all suffer from self doubt. Unfortunately it silences us when it occurs. After a month of silence your post is one of the first I read on my way back to writing and it’s given me some support. Thankyou.

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