The Internal Critic Strikes Back


Gimme A Break

In Writers Write, we always ask delegates to write a letter dismissing their internal critic. They can be pretty brutal. The poor guy takes a lot of abuse. Now, for the first time ever, he hits back with his side of the story in an anonymous letter.

Dear Writer

Do you know how hard I work for you? I don’t think you realise how many hours I put in just for you—whether it’s when you’re hammering away at your Mac late at night or scribbling in your moleskin early in the morning or even when you’re just driving in the traffic and thinking about writing. I’m always there.

But it is exhausting to be on call 24 hours a day. It is exhausting to agonise over your commas, clumsy spelling, and your every little crisis of artistic faith.  Oh, it’s easy to portray me as the shadowy villain, the insidious and invisible little bad guy in the on-going story of your writing career, but you know this isn’t so. We both know it.

If you’re honest, you will see me as nothing more than a conspirator in your fear, a co-dependant partner maybe—but not always the callous and cruel antagonist. More often than not, I’m a wet-nurse, a sounding board, a convenient excuse for not writing. I don’t think that’s fair, do you know? I’m not the one with the pen in my hand.

I am tired. I have not had a good night’s sleep in years. I have worn out my voice. I am tired of the merry-go-round games we play —round and round, we go. We need a break from each other. I need a vacation, a well-deserved holiday somewhere warm and pretty. We need to let go of this internecine and petty battle and call a truce—so you can show up at the page, on your own, sober, focused. Terrified, maybe, but free. You don’t need my voice. You have your own.

So let me pack my suitcase and slip quietly to the taxi waiting in the light of dawn. Let me sneak away and take that last flight out, before you beg me to stay. Please—just give me a break.