If you’re a writer, this battle rages in your psyche on a regular basis. The creative, who makes these huge intuitive leaps and brings stories into this world from out of the ether. The creative, who makes something out of nothing, splashes of ink on a once blank page, seeming to spin straw into gold.
And then there’s the critic, that nagging voice who says nothing is ever good enough.
Sometimes it feels like the writing process is an ongoing battle between the creative voice that knows without knowing how it knows and the critic, who knows that something is wrong.
The hardest part is that sometimes the critic is right. Sometimes the story isn’t working, and the critic speaks up.
But if the critic’s voice becomes too strong, the creative wants to quit, pack up and walk away from the story.
This week was exactly that sort of battle for me. I just finished edits on two stories, and decided before I dug into another revision I would pen a short story, something small and fresh to break up the revision process. I found a character, Silver, working in her garden as a storm approached. The first night I wrote a couple thousand words, just getting to know my characters and their dilemma.
After I finished writing that night, the critic started tearing the story apart. But the creative? She loved those characters, and she wouldn’t quit. She wanted to finish that story.
The critic spent the next twenty-four hours debating how to fix the story. All she knew was that the current depiction of the antagonist didn’t work, wasn’t fresh enough.
She came up with no solutions.
So I sat down at the page and told the creative voice to take over. Write something, anything.
And you know what? The critic shut up, and the creative worked her magic, and by the end of the night I was staring at a 6,000-word short story titled Silver’s Stray. Was it perfect? No. But it was a completed first draft.
I don’t pretend to have the answers. All I know is that sometimes we need to tell the critic to shut up and allow the creative free rein. Because the creative voice is a creature of intuition and imagination, and she knows answers the critic can’t even dream of.
Lastly, an ROW80 check-in:
Writing: Edited The Faerie Key and sent it to my proofreader. Finished a second draft of White Wolf, Red Cloak. It’s ready to send to the editor as soon as she’s available. Wrote 6,017 words in Silver’s Stray, a short story. First draft finished!
Reading: Read Twilight Guardians by Maggie Shayne and continued reading Garden Witch’s Herbal by Ellen Dugan.
A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.
How was your week? How do you balance your creative and critical sides?