del alma: Meet, and Quiet, Your Inner Critic

I had a wonderful and enlightening conversation with the writer and writing coach Charlotte Rains Dixon this summer.

I had turned to her for inspiration, and for encouragement, on finishing my novel, a fictional story I’ve been working on for more than a decade. (Da pena!)

I gave her excellent excuses — kid, freelance, toilets to clean, blog, blah blah blah — for not doing the work.

She immediately asked me who my Inner Critic is, asked me if I had met her, or him, or troll or whatever it may be.

It appears my Inner Critic is a vieja in a house dress. A metiche know-it-all who goes negative even before she hears the facts. Someone who says no, no, y no. She tells me que me porte bien, which at this age, I am not sure I need. She also tells me there is more important stuff to do — like trapear y cocinar — than finish a novel that may never get published.


Meet Your Inner Critic, An Exercise

Here is how I met my Inner Critic, based on Charlotte’s instruction:

Find a quiet half hour, take some deep breaths and ask the Inner Critic to come forward. Don’t resist.

What does she look like? Ask her or him, or whomever what they need and want.

“I did this 20 years ago and my critic is a little gnome named Patrick,” she told me.

Once the critic is identified, make a deal with the critic to leave you alone when you are creating, when you’re working, exploring. Let the critic come when the time for precision and actual critique is called for.

Pero, not when you are creating.

Since I was inspired by Charlotte to meet my Inner Vieja, I have taken to saying “Ay, Vieja, no chives. Let loose a little!” when I feel poked at.

Meeting my critic was a reminder not to get mangled in perfection, because perfection kills creativity and spontaneity.


The book? Well, I’ve dusted it off a few times and I’ve gone back to re-read the chapters I have written. I’ve made new notes, killed off a few characters, given new focus to another character and the plan is revived to get it done al fin.

At least while La Vieja is under control.

Y Tu?

Who is your Inner Critic? Does it stop you from creating? From living fully? From taking chances?

If you could make a deal with your Inner Critic, what do you think you would be inspired to do?

How do You inspire others to unleash their best?

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By Carrie on September 15, 2011 · Posted in del alma

22 Comments | Post Comment

Mirna says:

Wow, you got me thinking. I will try to find my inner critic. I am sure I have it because I feel it when trying to reach some personal or professional goals.

Posted on September 15th, 2011

Unknown Mami says:

I guess I’m a little scared to meet my inner critic, but I’ll schedule a date with her (somehow, I know it’s a her) and tell you about her when I meet her.

Posted on September 15th, 2011

Yoly says:

This is so true… sometimes we are our own worst critic. I stop listening to mine when it comes to video. Now, if I could just shut up the one about having a spotless clean house I would be in heaven ;)

Posted on September 15th, 2011

Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™ says:

i could turn this into a whole post on my own blog…. not sure that it would fit theme of cooking, but perhaps I could find a connection. My inner critics are not so inner, named mami y papi– all in love!

Posted on September 15th, 2011

Lisa Quinones-Fontanez says:

I am scared to death of my inner critic. She’s mean – like the Unknown Mami – I know mine is a woman. And I’m sure she looks a lot like me.

We are both in the same boat. My book has been in the works for almost a decade too. I have many valid reasons for not being able to finish. One day I will, but first I’ll need to have a face to face with my inner critic.

Posted on September 15th, 2011

yvonneinla says:

Yes, my inner critic is not so nice. And every time I write something she’s right there telling me it’s not good. She’s also there when my clothes don’t look right, dinner didn’t turn out….I could go on and on

Posted on September 15th, 2011

Sujeiry, 1st Lady of Love says:

Interesting. I will sit and ask myself this very question. I do feel a little voice inside me holding me back, especially with finishing my book. Have to conquer whoever she is so I don’t stall any longer!
Sujeiry, 1st Lady of Love´s last [fabulousness] ..Pepa Power™ Review: Eden Fantasys TCB (Taking Care of Business) Vibrator

Posted on September 15th, 2011

Laurita says:

That’s such a great exercise! I had never even thought of having an “inner critic.” I do know the adage “you are your own worst enemy.” But you’re right– a critic isn’t necessarily the enemy, it’s simply a matter of figuring out when to allow him/her to speak. Gracias, Carrie! ;)

Posted on September 15th, 2011

Justice Jonesie says:

I am full of ideas, most that I think are awesome! Then my inner critic tells me I don’t have time to add more ideas to my schedule so no point in pursuing my ideas.

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

Mirna, don’t let it win!
You win!

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

I was scared too, mi’ja. You never know what’s going to pop up.

Maybe your critic wears a bag too?

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

OMG, the house cleaning…Totally, but on that one, I hear my grandmother, who was the Queen of Clean.
Good luck!

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

Ha, ha, Bren…Of course: You have Cuban Parents! Cuban Parents hav e Opinions! But, always with love, for sure.

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

Maybe we need to become book-writing accountability partners?

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

Tell Her to take a Hike.

When she starts telling you caca, think of me telling you you are fabulous.

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

No mas stalling, Sujeiry.

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

I had never thought of it that way, either, Laura. It’s helpful, right?

Posted on September 16th, 2011

Carrie says:

Ay, I hear you…the time thing. If all my ideas could see the light…But, maybe it is about asking the critic to help us with priorities?

Posted on September 16th, 2011

John says:

Working to free oneself from the tyranny of the inner critic/superego takes courage and commitment – it’s not for the faint of heart or for those looking for a quick fix. The best book I’ve read on the subject – and I’ve read most of them – is

Posted on September 16th, 2011

rachel says:

“It appears my Inner Critic is a vieja in a house dress” – LOL

Yep, that would be mine. For someone in the arts, you would think I was a bit more flexible.
rachel´s last [fabulousness] ..a new renaissance

Posted on September 17th, 2011

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[...] of blogging in only two years. Not too long ago, I tripped upon this piece that she wrote: “Meet, and Quiet, Your Inner Critic“. I’m sharing it because she has an exercise on how to find your inner critic and [...]

Posted on September 30th, 2011

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Posted on October 7th, 2011