Writers and the inner critic

One of the international speakers at the recent Adelaide Writers Week was crime and historical fiction writer Sarah Dunant.  I managed to catch her talks several times. I didn’t take too many notes but I did record one significant statement she made.

Writers: tell the inner critic on your shoulder: “Leave the room, close the door and I’ll invite you back in when I’ve written and we’ll analyse it together.” Sarah Dunant 2010

The inner critic plagues many writers. Sometimes it is like a demon sitting there so belligerently that the writer is frozen by inaction.  Feelings of not being able to write creep in, along with their cousins telling the writer that he or she will never be a good writer. ‘You’re only deluding yourself,’ they cry. Try something sensible, like bomb disposal or rocket science. Go become something easier like a brain surgeon.

Self doubt and  self criticism is common. Writers need to shrug them off and just write. Get down the story, let it take on a momentum of its own and just get it written – no matter how rough it seems.

Then when the first draft is finished, invite the critic back into the process and go through your writing  meticulously, mercilessly and ruthlessly until the writing is so polished that it sparkles  like a well-cut diamond.

Good writing.

Sarah Dunant at Adelaide Writers Week 2010

Sarah Dunant at Adelaide Writers Week 2010


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