Doing anything (even mildly) creative, like doodling hearts, stars and spirals in the margins of your notebook during Monday morning meetings, can be enough to lend a voice to your inner critic. As a writer, I definitely end up sitting next to mine during my daily commute from Quotidian to Creativeville — and I’ll find myself wondering when he’ll step off the damn bus already. Well, he probably won’t — unless he gets over me.
I realized at some point, if I was ever going to get around to writing anything, I was going to have to figure out how I was going to manage this disruptor on my team. I decided I would take a writer’s approach and develop a deeper understanding of who this guy is, what makes him tick, and how I can leverage his strengths to my advantage. The novelist in me decided to draw up a character sheet on him.
Let’s practice drawing up a Character Sheet, shall we?
My character sheets usually begin with a physical description and quickly evolve into them dialoguing with me (the writer) and/or the other characters in my story. (Unfortunately, today, it’s personal.)
My Inner Critic happens to be a small man. He looks like a gnome or a dwarf, and he gets around, bitching about the rate of inflation and the government’s trespasses on our privacy (… don’t get him started on the internet!). He’s definitely urban and grumpy, and he likes to think he’s been around the world a few times. He’s actually pretty smart — street-smart, in an annoyingly “I told you so” sort of way, which means very little gets past him, because he’s always coming back to make his audit.
I try to remind him, “You wouldn’t be so experienced, smart and well-traveled if I didn’t bring you along with me on all my journeys. Sit back, let me do, and if I need your help–”
This is where he’ll interrupt me and try to tell me the word I want to use is “when [I need his help]”.
Okay, sure, “—when I need your help, I’ll ask you for help, okay?”
The guy is no morning person. He’s a regular grump. He doesn’t appreciate that I get up so early in the morning to try to avoid him — it just makes him have to get up earlier and skip his coffee.
Great — my inner critic needs coffee too.
He’ll sit back and fold his arms over his chest and just watch me, one eyebrow raised.
“While I’m at it, can you turn around please?” I’ll ask him, so I can at least flub without him breathing down my neck. “Don’t worry, I’ll call on you when I need your help,”
“Fine. I’ll go where my assistance is appreciated,” he’ll say in a huff. But I know he’ll be back. He always comes back.
I don’t have this confrontation nearly enough. I should make it more of a habit, a ritual, until I get around to doing the things I want to do more.
Have you met your inner critic? How would your inner critic’s character sheet read? Feel free to post your comments and thoughts. You probably have a more structured approach to Character Sheets, let me know!