Arrogance & Insecurity: the Inner Critic

There is a conflict in me. When I read my own work back after a period of letting it alone, I feel confident in my writing ability. This confidence borders on arrogance when I read poor writing and think, I’m better than this.

But during the writing process there is this crippling inner-critic who causes me to hesitate, my fingers hovering over the keyboard, to stare at a blank page afraid even to begin, and to delete sentences before they’re fully formed, to start and erase, start and erase, until I close my computer, wordless.

I know who this inner-critic is. This inner critic is me, the editor, intruding on me-the-writer when I should be left alone. I-the-editor has his function but he should not be hounding me when I’m writing, pouring poison in my ear, reading over my shoulder (I can’t write with someone watching, I always complain to my partner, and self-editing while I write is the same thing).

As I said, I-the-editor has his place but only once I-the-writer has done his job. He will polish the piece, smooth the edges, fix discrepancies and punctuation and spelling mistakes, remove superfluous language and highlight the clumsy and clunky. In general, he/I will refine the raw material.

However, this insecurity doesn’t always dissipate post-editing. It reemerges in the sharing of my writing as I know my work will now be exposed to people with eyes and minds at least as critical, most likely more so, than mine.

I guess it is my inner-critic, I-the-editor, who is both the cause of my arrogance and my insecurity. In criticising others’ work he makes me feel as though I am better than them, and in criticising my own work he shows me that I am not; he provides a prototype for all the critics who will pick my work apart.

As long as I lock him out of the writer’s room during the creative process, I-the-editor is a positive person. He demands improvement, he prepares me for criticism and he is as much a part of the final, complete work as I-the-writer.


 

Daily Prompt: The Great Pretender

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