In journaling/writing

outwit/outlast (your internal editor)

One thing that can trip up most of my clients is dealing with the “voice” of the inner critic/editor – that nasty-ass voice in your head that tells you not to do this or that; the one that stops you from speaking up for yourself; for asking for what you want. It’s the voice that stops you from journaling because you don’t have the perfect word, or you don’t know how to spell, or you have a tendency to get caught in ramblingly constructed run-on sentences (like this one), and why are you even bothering if no one is going to read this, but if they do read it: what will happen? or who is going to care about what you think anyway; do you really think your ideas are original and interesting?

Oy, what a chorus of nastiness.

One of the best ways to outwit your internal editor (critic/judge/monkey mind/greek chorus/vampires/whatever you call it) is to make sure you know when it’s working/alive.

And that’s usually … all the time.  

Yes. I believe that the internal editor is always there … hanging around in the background trying to tell you how things should be done, and how you should be (and journal) in order to get along and be accepted.

Or something like that.

(And yes: I think writing is a metaphor for being.)

  • When people say they can’t journal because they don’t know what to say? I think they’re afraid of being seen.
  • When they say they would like to write, but the don’t have time? They don’t make time for themselves.
  • When they say they would like to journal but “aren’t you supposed to be creative? Cause I’m’re not creative.” They don’t have faith in themselves.
  • They don’t write well? Variation on a theme of self-doubt. (You get the picture)

So where was I? Oh, yeah …

Knowing that your internal editor is at work is a great thing. And you notice him/her/it when you call it out into the light.

One way to do that is to have a conversation with it on paper.  

Kinda like this:

Me: I want to write about how journaling is an ideal practice for women who are working on making the most of their lives, but I feel like it’s all been said before; there are others more educated, more well-known, and way more fabulous in the blogosphere who write about writing and journaling; who wants to listen to me?

Editor: You’re right. The people you look up to are the true the experts … what do you know, really?

Well, I’ve been using a writing practice since I was a kid – even before I understood the benefits intellectually. I just got it. And I’ve been facilitating workshops for women for a loooong time now. I have experience; I’ve been in the trenches. 

Yeah, but why would anyone listen to you when they can read Ann Lamott or Triste Rainier, and take classes with Jen Louden, Patti Digh, and all the fabulous online writing/live-purposefully gurus and groovy blogging peeps?

Well, maybe they don’t know them … but if they’re here, they know me. And it’s possible that I say things in a way that they can get it. And maybe I’m more accessible or something; maybe they like the pop culture references, and the weird words I make up. Maybe I’m their gateway encourager. Who knows? Maybe …

See how that works? It’s working for me already … I’m feelin’ a little of that “take that you damn critics; you ain’t the boss of me!” in my bones. (grrr!)

But if dialogue doesn’t work for you, you could dive right in and write about the stuff that scares you. Kinda like this:

Sometimes I’m scared by how much I want to do this work of mine. I want to share it with cool people who get it, and I want it to sustain me … but sometime I think I’m not smart enough or clever enough or funny/accessible/organized/disciplined enough to make it really work. And sometimes I let you (you skanky, evil editor) tell me that I need to package it/me in a certain way or I won’t be accepted, and I’ll be a failure, and I’ll wind up a bag lady … unloved, pathetic, and fulfilling every horrible fuck-up fantasy I’ve ever had about me.

(Ooh, my, that evil editor really is one nasty-ass isn’t she?)

Yet, while I do this, I see the craziness of the editor, cause really … am I going to be a bag lady? Doubtful. Will I be a huge success? Maybe. Maybe not. Who the hell knows?

But when I write the worst of the fears, I see how completely driven they are by a warped perspective that doesn’t have much reality informing it. (Bet that’ll work for you too …)

Finally, the thing that helps the most, and makes it easier to notice the critic – to see when she is disguising herself as a helper (But I only want to protect you from yourself, she whispers as she tells you not to be so much yourself … to swear a little less, talk less about your spiritual perspective, or to pretty everything up; to stop short of having a real opinion …) … the only way to do that? … is to practice.  

Keep going. Write through the voices in your head that try to restrain you.

Write fast. Write often. Write without regard for the perfect word or punctuation (yes, if you want to write for publication, you’ll need to think of that down the road, but not now…) … now, just throw it down on the page and watch the magic happen.

Try this at home: Write through the inner critic. (or write about something that sprung to mind when you read the above …)

I’d love to hear how it goes for you. Drop a line. (I reply.) 

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  • Julie Mastroserio
    November 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Wow. First thing I’m going to do is to try to turn off my internal editor. That’s a LOT easier said than done. I wanted to comment on what you wrote, Deb, because I felt like you were ME for a minute or two. Ah, the fucking internal editor is screaming at me right now. “You don’t know what to write. You can’t remember exactly what it was that she wrote that resonated so perfectly. You’re going to have to go back and read it again. You’re old!” There, I said it. I’m getting OLD. And I really hate it. Fuck you, internal editor. So anyway, back to what I was writing before. You touched me. It felt like you reached inside my head and grabbed all of those thoughts out and put them down on paper. And now, my wise teacher, I feel like all the excuses I have for not writing, have been said. And, now… maybe, just maybe, I’ll let the cranium open and spill. But not here, of course, this is your space. I love your space. I plan to come back and visit often. Thank you. Loved your car story, too. Your Mom sounds awesome and yummy and sweet and sassy. Just like you babe. later.

    • Deb Cooperman
      November 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      So glad you’re playing Julie. (and while this is my blog, your writing here doesn’t take away from that. the point of a blog – at least the point of mine – is to invite conversation … so write and post here all you want. being in conversation makes it all way more interesting …) <3