Screw You, Critic!

“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.”
— Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Write an eviction letter to your inner critic.

Comments

  1. Shellie says

    Write an eviction letter to your inner critic.

    I hereby evict you Shellie the critic out of my writing, be quiet, nope, nope…I said no, nothing from you and I will be free to write what I feel, what I hear in my soul and what I remember from my past and you will not; and I do mean NOT have a word in it edgewise or any wise for that matter.

    You’ve been knocking me over messing with my platform and ruining my mood for writing for years. I say enough is enough and I want to have my way, not your over critiqued version of my stuff.

    That’s it, I said it and wrote it, so get, go and be gone.

    I will write with freedom I have not written with for a long time, and take the after affects with grace, even when I am vulnerable. That is a way that I may learn what’s good and what’s not so good.

    I think this may be what I needed all along.

    Next I may have to evict spell and grammar check?

    Shellie the want-to-be writer.
    10/8/13

    • Kate Samuels says

      This was great! It felt very theatrical to me- and very real. I identified with every word. well done!

    • Barbara Keller says

      I did shut off spelling and grammar check. Good point. I didn’t realize why but it was disruptive, and my writing attempts are fragile and can’t cope with criticism. Even mechanical.

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for a good eviction notice. I really liked your sentence: “Next I may have to evict spell and grammar check?” I sure know that feeling. Spell and grammar check can really be nags.

      Well written, concise and to the point.

    • Terilynn says

      Wonderful. You’re learning to evict the obnoxious details (like spelling and grammar!) The doubt will always be there. So what? Write anyways!

    • Judy says

      Ain’t no ‘want-to-be-writer’ about you, Shellie. And, I’m with you on evicting spel chek and grmer chck…well, maybe next year!

    • Karla says

      This sentence had such authenticity and power: “I will write with freedom I have not written with for a long time, and take the after affects with grace, even when I am vulnerable.” Great job on this piece!

    • Wendy says

      Shellie, I thought this was charming and powerful. It was very funny, and it felt important. Thank you for sharing it with me. Wendy

    • Terry Gibson says

      I love this Shellie. I especially love ” … be quiet, nope, nope…I said no, nothing from you ….” I can almost see you silencing that rotten pest. :)

      • Shellie says

        Awww…Thank you alll for the nice encouragement, Wow, from this piece, I have felt such a critic for so long, thank you for helping me to silence her, I will be writing with abandon, I love this group! It’s the next best thing that’s happened lately, I also got a job I like, lol…But, I’m fitting this in!!!
        And Laura, I can’t quite wrap my fingers around typing Shellie the writer and claim it? ugh…

  2. Fran Stekoll says

    It’s time to get off the couch and get motivated. So what if you have multiple physical problems, just sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself isn’t solving anything. Turn off the damn TV. Get up, get dressed, get out. Ride your bike, go to the pool, exercise, Take your dogs for walks, There’s plenty of healthy food in the fridge and remember to chew each bite 20 times. Look at that picture of you in prime health on the fridge. Just because your kids live with you in no excuse to be waited on hand and foot, There’s plenty of life left in this old broad. It’s your birthday month. Time to be -born.

    Age is a matter of mind and if you don’t mind it doesn’t matter.
    Age is a number and mine is unlisted.

    You’re only as old as you feel- and when you stop feeling- You’re Old!!!

    It’s time for a new YOU!!!!!!

    • Kate Samuels says

      I love that instead of having a critic you have a motivator, and that you hear her throughout all aspects of your life. Really interesting to read!

    • Hazel says

      An inner cheerleader can also sound like an inner critic if they keep it up all day long. I’ll be looking for the New you.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Fran, what truth you speak in this. Love the line, “Age is a number and mine is unlisted.” Nicely done. Go kick up some dust and a Happy Early Birthday!

    • says

      Hi Fran, I love the line, “Age is a matter of mind and if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” And “Age is a number and mine is unlisted.”

      I loved the sassy voice in this piece.

    • Debbie says

      Fran – I couldn’t agree with your words more!
      “There’s plenty of life left in this old broad. It’s your birthday month. Time to be -born.” Go for it!

  3. Karla says

    Dear Inner Doubter,

    I am grateful for your years of dedicated service and companionship, and I realize that you have served several important roles in my life. At this time, I would prefer to transition from our current arrangement, where you live inside my head, to an external arrangement, where I could invite you into my life as needed to curb any excessive enthusiasm or to undo any long-term groundedness or sense of internal peace. I suspect that I may need you most at times where my confidence lags about myself in relation to other people, but I don’t want to give you any false commitments even about that. I may one day be able to imagine how it would be helpful to believe that I am unlovable and even unlikable, but I’m just not there yet.

    At one time, I thought you were a visionary, a cross between a crystal ball and a benign guru acting in my best interests. I saw you as having a particularly keen sense of the truth about me as well as being able to read the authentic feelings of other people. Perhaps it was once important than I question whether a compliment was genuine, as it may have given me a sense of humility and appreciation when I hear one now. Maybe I work harder now because I’m not always sure that I’m doing a good job or producing the quality of work that I want. It’s possible that your assistance has been like training wheels on the bicycle of my life, helping me to find balance and perspective. At this moment, and I am writing and posting so I may not take it back later, I am ready to teeter through on my own.

    Thank you for your understanding and best of luck in your future endeavors,
    Karla

    • Hazel says

      Karla,
      I think you are a lady who has found out that, You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. Is this same voice that I heard you reading “Shut the Fuck Up, and Go to Sleep?” It seems a bit tongue in cheek to me.

      I loved the piece. Very well written! Oh Boy! “Thank you for your understanding and best of luck in your future endeavors.”

      I was laughing right out loud. Thank you for sharing.

        • Mary Carlson says

          Om my God, Karla, I want to meet you! I think you’ve figured out how to survive, with your dignity and truth intact. Your inner critic SEEMS so benign, but in truth, has kept you tame and impotent. Your writing is so clever, with such syrupy praise for the critic who is now getting the boot. This kind of irony is my favorite kind of writing. I am smiling.

          • Karla says

            Hi Mary,
            I’m scratching my head a bit trying to figure out how to understand your reaction to my writing here. I do think that I see my inner critic as benign now, although I wouldn’t have some years ago. I don’t think I’ve been tame and impotent in my life, but maybe I’ve misinterpreted what you said. I definitely wasn’t going for irony here– but I do think that I probably have deeply conflictual feelings about this topic– like most others about my life lately, as I am in a place of transformation, or potential transformation. I am both genuine and hyper-polite in this piece, and that just may not work very well in communicating what I intended. I really appreciate the feedback– and I am not trying to be critical of it or reject your perspective. I’m just trying to reconcile it with my own.

          • Karla says

            Mary, the reader never needs to apologize to the writer– in my opinion– and you did nothing wrong. I very much appreciate any and all feedback I receive. The confusion is mine to own, and i didn’t mean to make you feel that you should apologize.

    • Diana says

      I love the perspective of finding balance with the inner critic. Gently releasing it and using it when helpful and disregarding it when not. I loved the gentleness of this piece.

      • Karla says

        Thanks so much for the feedback, I felt that I was striving towards this, but you may be giving me too much credit.

    • Terilynn says

      I love it! Since the inner critic is a part of us, I like the way you negotiate with yourself. Firmly, yet with kindness – as we sometimes need to treat ourselves.

      • Karla says

        I did feel that kindness was part of what I tried to communicate. I’ve been too harsh with myself for too much of my life; I’m trying greater gentleness and maybe even a sprinkle of compassion.

    • Mary Lasher says

      Your kindness struck me and touched me. How gentle you are with yourself, including the inner critic. I loved it.

    • Judy says

      Karla, masterfully written letter to your Inner Doubter. I love the construction and slow place. That, along with the reflectiveness that evokes these strong images, “…..undo any long-term groundedness or sense of internal peace.” Or this, ” It’s possible that your assistance has been like training wheels on the bicycle of my life, helping me to find balance and perspective.” This is amazing writing craft. Thank you.

      • Karla says

        Thank you very much, Judy. You have an incredible gift at giving feedback. You always give me a greater appreciation for what I do well.

    • says

      Karla, I appreciate how you accept that we can’t just exorcise the parts of us we don’t like–we have to understand their role and purpose in our lives–how they first crawled inside our heads and bodies–and then as you did extend compassion and negotiate new terms of engagement.

    • Shellie says

      I love this line Karla, “I saw you as having a particularly keen sense of the truth about me as well as being able to read the authentic feelings of other people.” Wow, that was powerful to me for sure, and rings so very true, thanks for giving it light in your piece here. I enjoyed this.

    • Wendy says

      I really like the thoughtful tone of this piece. I really felt when I was reading it that I was hearing you say this to your inner critic. It rang true. Thank you.

    • Ilana says

      Nice job, Kara. Concise and clear. I hope I can say that the next time my inner critic tells me that I “Cant.” ;) Ilana

    • Debbie says

      Karla – This is just terrific! Not only could I identify with what you wrote – I totally enjoyed the format and style. Not mention, I laughed out loud most of the way through. This may be my favorite line – but it that is a stretch since I thought the whole piece was excellent.
      “I suspect that I may need you most at times where my confidence lags about myself in relation to other people, but I don’t want to give you any false commitments even about that. I may one day be able to imagine how it would be helpful to believe that I am unlovable and even unlikable, but I’m just not there yet.” LOL!

  4. Hazel says

    Write an eviction letter to your inner critic.

    You Inner Critic have 24 hours to vacate the mind of Hazel Strawn Muller. Oh, I know you have been given 30 day notices before and you shaped up for a little while, stopped kicking her in the side of the head saying her writing was no good. But that was not a permanent change, you only did that so that she would relent and let you stay. You thought she would change her mind and she did, giving you the how many millionth chance to change? Now she’s had it and you must go. What’s more you can get your nattering buddies to help you move you and them out! SHE WILL HAVE SOME PEACE AND QUIET AROUND HERE! Do you hear me?

    Don’t try leaving something behind so you have an excuse to come back for it either. She is having the locks changed and you will have to ask me for the keys and I am not going to tell you where I have tossed them. Don’t stand outside her ear and yell either as she has put in earplugs. You are finished here. Her mind is free of you. Got it? Well, Get it!

    “No, No, I will not listen to you.” he says, pulling out his gun.

    “From this moment forward Hazel will write only elegant first drafts, and everyone will love her very much. Do you hear me?”

    That was the Sheriff giving my inner critics their eviction notice. I have served them before with registered letters, you know with the 30 day eviction notices that you can get the form for from the bookstore. They didn’t work, so when I called the police station asking them how I could get these moochers out of my head they told me to write up my eviction letter and give it to the Sheriff; that he has more clout, and bigger guns. Well, he has done his part, now I will have to be vigilant to see that they don’t get even one tiny toe back in.

    Inner critic is like the bind weed in my garden. I pull it out and I think I have gotten the roots and all, but it goes underground and up pops another plant that is eager to strangle what ever flower is near. I have been told that the only way to get rid of bind weed is to use “Round-up” which is a weed killer that you spray on. It is supposed to kill the roots to. Is there a “Round-up” for inner critics? If there isn’t there surely should be. I’m looking to see if I can get me some.

    • Diana says

      Hazel
      I loved calling in the Sheriff. I think I need to adopt an Inner Sheriff with more clout to rid myself of freeloaders! I loved the line “nattering buddies to help..”

    • Mary Lasher says

      I’m beginning to think that a man with a gun is the only way to take care of these trespassers! I don’t want to kill…. just scare them away for good!

    • Karla says

      This is a very beautifully worded piece, Hazel. This was my favorite part: “From this moment forward Hazel will write only elegant first drafts, and everyone will love her very much.” I love how you turned the Anne LaMott quote that began this prompt on its head, and that in itself shows (more than it tells) how wonderfully you captured the spirit of this prompt.

    • Shellie says

      I love the stories within the piece, entertaining me while learning too, especially this line” Don’t try leaving something behind so you have an excuse to come back for it either.” great!

    • Wendy says

      Hazel, I thought this was delightful, so funny and surprising and poignant and firm. Full of great details. I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

    • Judy says

      Hazel, stunning details. Get out and don’t leave anything behind. Love that there is absolutely no ambiguity here. Moochers, bind weeds….love this summary…’looking to see if I can get me some.’ Powerfully standing in your truth, Lady. I’m loving it. Thanks for the smiles.

      • Debbie says

        Oops – this is what I meant to post
        “Inner critic is like the bind weed in my garden. I pull it out and I think I have gotten the roots and all, but it goes underground and up pops another plant that is eager to strangle what ever flower is near”
        That is a great analogy!

  5. Barbara Keller says

    Get out. You were warned, repeatedly. Now it’s time to vacate the premises.

    Notices were posted. “Shut up. No one asked for your opinion. Cease and desist. Damage has been done as a direct result of your haphazard citicisms, relentless nit picking, life threatening accusations and suggestions of inadequacy.”

    You were warned, explanations were given. Your lawyer was contacted and informed. “Tell your client the time for patience and inner struggle is over. Stop any and all acts of sabatoage and subterfuge related to my writing or attempts to write or failures to write.”

    In 24 hours your premises will be empty of your presence and possessions or drastic actions will follow.

    Don’t press your luck. Signed Barbara Keller, owner of this body and soul.

    • Hazel says

      Wow, sounds like you mean business. It was great how you enumerated the transgressions and the giving the lawyer warnings was a great idea. Loved the last line: “Don’t press your luck. Signed Barbara Keller, owner of this body and soul.”

      Good job! Thank you for sharing.

    • Mary Lasher says

      I too love the last line. Owner of this body and soul! Perfect words to remind me who owns my soul… me!

    • Karla says

      I love the way you describe your inner critic as possessing these abilities: “your haphazard citicisms, relentless nit picking, life threatening accusations and suggestions of inadequacy.” In general, the tone of this piece made me happy and proud for you.

    • says

      Barbara, I loved the curt, clear tone of this piece, the clipped sentences, the clarity of the message. I loved your sign off, too: “Don’t press your luck.”

    • Wendy says

      Barbara,

      I love this. It’s so direct and alive. It gets right to the point. It made me know how important it was immediately. Thank you.

    • Judy says

      Barbara, Some more powerful exit orders for that nasty inner critic and loving the directness you express here. This is priceless, “Don’t press your luck. Signed Barbara Keller, owner of this body and soul.” Thanks for the smiles this afternoon.

    • Barbara Keller says

      Thanks for taking the time to read this and respond. Sorry I’m so slow to get back to it. I love the comments and appreciation. No I never evicted anyone. I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time. I’m afraid that just because I have a loud, strong voice doesn’t mean my eviction is any more effective than the one with a quiet voice, but I enjoyed it. My dad was a lawyer and I always loved to practice fake lawyerese. You all take care.

  6. Diana says

    Dear Inner Critic,

    Your behavior is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated. You have resided rent free for far too long. Over the decades you have assumed the voices of many; my mother, my grandmother, or teacher until you have morphed into the sound of my own voice carping in my head and reverberating into my gut.

    You have stood with me at the starting line of athletic events with your insults and messages of being undeserving. You hitched a ride through nursing school hiding behind the judgmental glare of instructors or veteran nurses. Every time I pick up a pen to express a story or idea, you are there. You are redundant in delivering the same diatribe of unworthiness and incompetence.

    You have become comfortable leaving your mess. I spend my time cleaning up after you rather than being productive and creative. You are not a companion, but a parasite. I have feed you and housed you. If I do not nourish you, you will wither and turn to ash.

    This is your final notice. You will no longer be feed. You will no longer be housed. You will not live. You will turn to vapor and vanish.

    Consider this effective immediately.

    Sincerely,

    • Hazel says

      Thank you for sharing. I liked that you will not nourish this inner critic and it will turn to ash. And your final statement: “Consider this effective immediately.” maybe you should have used an exclamation point at the end.

      To bad old habits die so hard. Changing an inner to a critic to a supportive critique voice is very hard to do.

    • Mary Lasher says

      Isn’t it amazing how comfortable the critic gets with it’s messes? I found I got comfortable too. Thank you for these words.

    • Karla says

      This sentence knocked me out (in a good way): “Over the decades you have assumed the voices of many; my mother, my grandmother, or teacher until you have morphed into the sound of my own voice carping in my head and reverberating into my gut.” You capture so well how we can take up where others left off and continue to punish ourselves in the same way. Your awareness of this is clear and strong.

    • says

      Diana, I really enjoyed this piece. I love the way you talked about all the way the critic has infiltrated your life and remained a lingering presence. But then you boot the critic out with no uncertain terms, “This if your final notice,” “Consider this effective immediately.” And my favorite, “You are not a companion, but a parasite.” You go, girl!

    • Shellie says

      That was awesome, I hung on every word here, especially this “You are not a companion, but a parasite.” TRUE that!

    • Wendy says

      Diana,

      I love the idea of the critic’s voice coming from different people and then morphing into your own voice. I liked the idea of feeding the critic. Thank you.

    • Ilana says

      Awesome! I have a few critics I’d like to send this letter to. Mind if I plagiarize? Just kidding. Thank you for sharing it. Ilana

    • Judy says

      Diana, Power packed delivery. From start to finish you painted the picture of ‘a parasite.’ Loved this rendering and thank you for sharing so eloquently.

    • Debbie says

      Diana -

      “You have become comfortable leaving your mess. I spend my time cleaning up after you rather than being productive and creative.”

      Oh my gosh – how true is that statement for so many of us!

  7. Terilynn says

    Ah, yes, my inner critic is very much alive and well!

    Nonetheless, I challenged it. I recently submitted four stories to different publications. Even if all are rejected, I feel I’ll be validated by putting them out there. I am shouting to the world outside that I am here.

    The critic shut up for the time being. As artists, we are of course our own worst critics. When I made my submissions, I felt more than standing up to The Critic. I was also thumbing my nose to the critical mother from my past. I was saying, “This isn’t YOUR story. It’s MINE!”

    I am frankly excited about claiming my own stories, and allowing myself the vulnerability to do so. I’m ready to give myself voice. It helps that I have a very supportive writer’s group. Every writer needs one.

    • Diana says

      Kudos for taking a stand to the Critc and taking the step to submitting some work. I hope they get published. Yes we all seem to be our own worst critic. It seems to be a universal struggle.

    • Mary Lasher says

      Yay Terilynn! That is the ultimate in showing the inner critic that it’s words are not your words! Good for you for taking the steps to prove him wrong. You give me the inspiration to maybe try the same thing!

    • Karla says

      Congratulations on taking the very powerful step of submitting your stories. In my writing group, we applaud everytime a writer announces that s/he has received a rejection letter (or note, or card). No matter what the publications say about your stories, you are so right that putting them out there is a validation of yourself.

    • says

      Thanks for modeling courage for all of us, Terilynn. It takes great courage to put your words out into the world. No matter what happens, the fact that you did it is something to be very proud of!

    • Hazel says

      Terilyn,
      How beautiful that you have put down the critic and your mother’s voice by submitting your own story for publication. What better way to shut both of them up.

      “I’m ready to give myself voice.” nice affirmation. “It helps that I have a very supportive writer’s group.” heart felt appreciation.
      “Every writer needs one.” confirmation. You got it lady!

      Thank you for sharing this nice tight piece of writing.

    • Wendy says

      Terilynn, I liked hearing how you stood up to the critic and took action and have your group. That sounds really great. Thank you.

    • Judy says

      Terilynn, you are inspiring, brave and write beautifully. I love this line, “This isn’t YOUR story. It’s MINE!” and find your steps breathtaking. We’re all with you and thank you for sharing this wonderful news.

    • Debbie says

      Terilynn -
      “I am frankly excited about claiming my own stories, and allowing myself the vulnerability to do so. I’m ready to give myself voice.”

      I am glad you are sharing that voice here, as well!

  8. Judy says

    Screw You, Critic.

    You, who often sound as fingernails on a chalk board: that slow, lingering, drawn-out shriek that hurts my ears and stops me flat in my tracks. Out, out I command you. I’ve pleasures to attend and you are not they.

    You, over-identified with your role, confuse a pattern of behavior with who I am. You take yourself far too seriously. Critic indeed, I say. Get this–and move back a few steps–our dance is over!

    Of all the voices that speed skate and/or do wheelies through the twists and turns of my mind’s gray matter, you are the one voice I fondly bid adieu. Be gone. You are banished. You are NOT my muse.

    I can write. I have written. I will write again.

    Git. Git, I say, I have a date with a Bard.

    • Diana says

      Love this Shakespeare inspired eviction! It made me smile. I love “our dance is over” and “I have pleasures to attend to and you are not they.” Loved it.

    • Karla says

      “I can write. I have written. I will write again.”

      Yes, you can. Yes, you have. Yes, you will.

      But who’s Bard?

      Thanks for the spirit and wonderful language of this piece.

    • says

      Judy, loved this–especially your last two lines: “I can write. I have written. I will write again.” And, “Git. Git, I say, I have a date with a Bard.” I hope you had as much fun writing it as I had reading it.

    • Shellie says

      II love the language used, in this, words I do not see often enough…like ” not they, bid adieu, and my favorite the date with a Bard! LOVE that. :)

      • Judy says

        Shellie, I keep a summary of Will Shakespeare near my keyboard…some of it must have simply seeped in. Thanks for your comment.

    • Hazel says

      Judy,
      Isn’t this just the best description I have ever heard of the Inner Critic? “You, who often sound as fingernails on a chalk board: that slow, lingering, drawn-out shriek that hurts my ears and stops me flat in my tracks.” Yikes! And, “Of all the voices that speed skate and/or do wheelies through the twists and turns of my mind’s gray matter, you are the one voice I fondly bid adieu.” I love the action figure you have portrayed here and kissed off.

      This is a charming piece you have shared with us here, a modern attitude with an Old English style. Thank you. I do believe you pulled it off.

  9. Mary Lasher says

    Dear Inner Critic,

    You have been a part of me for as long as I can remember. A constant companion always reminding me that I am not good enough. Never pretty enough. Never smart enough. You made it possible to live uncomfortable in my own skin. You grew a deep dark hedge around me that I never ventured past for fear of failing. You made sure that belief kept me contained.

    I have wondered where you came from when I dare to examine our relationship. How did you manage to plant your roots so deep into my soul? And then it occurred to me you lived in my own mothers soul as well. I look back over her life and can see her fears, her lack of self worth and how she coexisted with you. It was not her fault but she was too weak to take you on. You made her believe she was not good enough. Which in turn led me to believe the same. The seed was planted.

    My mother was a gentle woman who had a lot to give. She tried but you stopped her many times. I watched you cripple her with fear the same way the scorching sun cripples the delicate bloom of it’s own beauty.

    I have lived with you for over half my life now. Years lived half empty because of what you took away from me as your presence permeated any thoughts I had of self ambition. Time lost because I believed in you. Myself lost because I trusted in you.

    I know that no matter how hard I try to pull you out you will always be within but I have learned I can cut you back by pruning away your harshness and biting words. I will learn to be vigilant of your sneaky growing vines that have criticized me far too long. I’m cutting you back to show the world my own beauty and what I have to offer.

    • says

      Beautiful reflections here: “You grew a deep dark hedge around me that I never ventured past for fear of failing. You made sure that belief kept me contained. ” And I love the insights about your mother. I also celebration your clarity when you realize the critic will always be there, but you can prune her back.

    • Diana says

      Mary,
      I love the insight that so much of the inner critic can be inherited from an elder and that it will always be there. I loved the line of “being vigilant of the growing sneaky vines”

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      What a beautiful piece–I especially got pulled in also with the part about this critic living within the mother and how she reacted and now what the reaction is–what depth! Thanks!

    • Hazel says

      Mary,
      Such an easy going piece, the acceptance of the critic, you almost fooled me into believing your were not going to oust it. Then, In your very last two sentences: “but I have learned I can cut you back by pruning away your harshness and biting words. I will learn to be vigilant of your sneaky growing vines that have criticized me far too long. I’m cutting you back to show the world my own beauty and what I have to offer.” we are shown your beauty and we will watch to see that it does not dim. We of your Writer’s Journey Roadmap group.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Mary, this is beautifully written. I was right there beside you. This is an awesome sentence, “You grew a deep dark hedge around me that I never ventured past for fear of failing.” You write so lovingly f you mother. Great piece with such vivid images. I love the conclusion. Thank you and hope to see you here often.

    • Debbie says

      Mary -

      I was touched by the compassion of your post. These lines were especially impactful to me
      “I have wondered where you came from when I dare to examine our relationship. How did you manage to plant your roots so deep into my soul? And then it occurred to me you lived in my own mothers soul as well.”
      Thank you for sharing this

  10. Judy says

    Laura,

    This prompt is to the Roadmap what powder milk biscuits is to Prairie Home Companion….it gives shy people the courage to get up and do what needs to be done…… and my goodness they’re delicious.

  11. Wendy says

    Dear Inner Critic,

    Here’s the deal.

    You need to leave my house.

    I know you have never been late with a rent check. But you’re terrorizing my artist. You’re frightening my child. You stomp around the attic and you scream. You confront people all the time. You never check in with them. You just are convinced that you’re right, and you say things that are demoralizing and mean, and I just can’t have it any more in my house.

    So here’s the deal.

    You can live in the cottage on the edge of the property. I will visit you. I will listen to what you have to say. Despite everything, I feel that you have wise things to tell me. I just need you to learn how to be with people. I need you to start trusting that every moment is not your moment to try to say your truth. I need you to learn about kindness. I need you to trust that we will get there. I know that sometimes we seem like a motley crew, but you have to learn how to be patient with us.

    I know that you love us. I know that you’re frustrated. I know that you want us to do things a certain way. I know you want us to get on the super fast highway, that straight route to enlightenment, but sometimes we want to walk. Sometimes we want to meander. Sometimes we just want to sing and pass the potatoes, and hold hands.

    Someway, I would like you to join us. I would like you to sit at the table. I am going to come to that cottage and bring my editing work because I know you have a sharp eye. I’m going to talk with you about how I would phrase things to other people. I am going to teach you, and you are going to teach me. I need your insight. Sometimes I need your intensity. But that’s like a rare spice, IC. It can’t be a continuous thing. It can’t live in my house.

    I will help you pack. I will put things in boxes. I am telling everyone that you are on retreat, that you are not to disturbed, and I am the only one who gets to be your guest. I am telling them that you are doing important things. I know you won’t believe this, but they will miss you. Some may try to imitate you. I will discourage that behavior.

    I will need to give you a hug before you go. I am warning you so you won’t melt into tears. I know it’s hard to believe how much you are loved. We will figure out a way to work together, IC.

    • says

      Wendy, this piece was full of so much powerful insight. Truly, we can’t banish any parts of us–not really–despite the prompt. What you showed here is how every part has something to offer, something to teach us. It’s like taming a wild horse. You offered such a nuanced, wise perspective here. Thank you.

    • Diana says

      Wendy,
      I enjoyed the tone of setting limits with IC and recognizing when IC is useful such as with editing work.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      I love the firm voice and command and I also love the finding the place for the critic to do what it does best and the detail about where it will be housed. Great detail, power, and compassion to the critic.

      (I wrote my piece before I read any of these pieces but feel a relation to the things in your piece, a relation to the approach. Also, funny I used “I.C” as well…)
      Thanks much for your piece and insights!

      • Karla says

        Except for the parenthetical, what Lee wrote resonates with me too. I also enjoyed the idea of your critic’s “straight road to enlightenment” and the playfulness of this and in many ways, throughout the whole piece. I just thought it was brilliant to engage your critic in *play* rather than in banishment.

      • Wendy says

        Lee, I do the same thing. I post before I read anything so I won’t feel intimidated/be overly influenced by what others wrote. Then when I do read, it’s fun to see the similarities sometimes. It’s so great to be part of a community.

    • Hazel says

      Such a great idea, “You can live in the cottage on the edge of the property. I will visit you.” You turn the situation around from being harassed by the critic you will visit and listen on your terms. Nice twist on the banishing of a perceived foe. Beautifully done, thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Wendy, what an engaging piece of writing. So creative with superb images of a inner dialogue with internal critic. Vivid, fun, and caring. Nice portrait of a human condition. Thank you and ‘pass the potatoes, please.’

    • Debbie says

      Wendy – so very clever and unique. I must say I had not thought in such a loving way about my own IC – but your post has caused me to reflect on what good it does bring. Wow – very nice!

  12. Michael Dorenzo says

    EVICTION NOTICE

    Dear Inner Critic (aka Ms. Know-it-all, Ms Emily Post Wannabe, Princess Of Darkness Who Catalogues Every Reason You Will Fail, So Why Bother):

    I am hereby giving you notice. It has come to my attention that you have been taking up space in my consciousness that could instead occupy itself with positive input, with being part of a team—possibly even a well-oiled machine writing machine, but no.

    You have chosen to build a nest there of sticks and stones, misspellings and of uptight, arched patterns of speech, in which to brew your bitter medicine and to practice the dark arts of denial and procrastination. You have lined the walls of this nest (inadequately, I might add), with all the shortcomings that you imagine will insert themselves in my writing if you back off and keep your mouth shut. You make me afraid to inhabit this neighborhood of writers, with it’s steep, searing learning curves; you do this by making me focus on the smallest, most irrelevant, intricate, nagging details at the very time I should be in my most expansive free self. And I swear, you will do stop at nothing to divert my attention from the tasks at hand.

    The world is full of people who take things personally and who look for people to disagree with. Many of these people are readers and some of them are my friends and/or family members, some of whom, by nature, look to trivialize the work of other people. You, my inner critic, have betrayed me by colluding with those friends and readers who don’t get me, who suspect me of Machiavellian machinations or, worse, of being a self-promoting busybody.

    You are only satisfied when you can dominate. And you don’t even seem to know what it is you want, but when you feel you’re not getting it, you shut down the whole operation, like a small, spoiled child. Just who do you think you are–a Republican member of the US House of Representatives? That just isn’t okay with me anymore. You have to vacate the premises. This is no longer negotiable.

    It’s not that your skills are not valued. They are. God is, after all, in the details. But you simply have not learned one of the inner critics’ most basic lessons: When to keep your big mouth shut.

    There is a time and place for everything. Your time will come. But meanwhile, you’re out. And if, in the future, you see a need to assert yourself, we can review this decision, but be advised, we will need to think of a new role for you. So be thinking of a new name to use—something more forward thinking, less negative. This “inner critic” business just doesn’t fly.

    The rest of my sensibilities are taking all the risk here. The rest of us have boundaries. The rest of us are committed to self-expression. We want to fly. We want to sing onto the page and see our lines dance from one paragraph to the next. We want to find new voices, to create magical stories that poke up through the detritus and decomposition on the forest floor of my imagination and, well, frankly, it’s hard to sustain this spirited approach with you around. You, with your need for a smooth and unruffled exterior that can pass muster with the most conservative, repressed, officious grammarians in town. Your need to always be in charge and to always look good and to always be right is killing the spontaneity and nuance of the writing process itself.

    None of us gets to be in charge. You cannot by your very nature be allowed to run the show. Dude, it’s a conflict of interest. You will no longer be allowed residence here. You are the finisher, the one who gets called in after the heavy lifting is done, to fine tune. Make no mistake: you can be replaced. If anything needs to be outsourced, it will be your work. No, we will not just replace you with spell check. You are needed but not until you learn to play nice with others, to work in concert with all the rest of us toward a common goal.

    Until then, I’ll just hang out with Jack Kerouac, ee cummings and James Joyce. I’m sure you remember how they dealt with you. And, for dead guys, they are always pretty good company.

    Cordially, Michael

    • says

      Michael. this was beautifully crafted and had me laughing out loud. These two paragraphs were golden: “You are only satisfied when you can dominate. And you don’t even seem to know what it is you want, but when you feel you’re not getting it, you shut down the whole operation, like a small, spoiled child. Just who do you think you are–a Republican member of the US House of Representatives? That just isn’t okay with me anymore. You have to vacate the premises. This is no longer negotiable.”

      “It’s not that your skills are not valued. They are. God is, after all, in the details. But you simply have not learned one of the inner critics’ most basic lessons: When to keep your big mouth shut.”

      And, “Dude, it’s a conflict of interest.” I almost fell off my chair laughing. Thank you!

    • Diana says

      Micheal.
      This was awesome. I love the “nest of sticks and stones …where you practice the dark arts of denial and procrastination.” This piece had me laughing out loud.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      This piece grabbed me from the “aka” get-go! Great language–yes, me too about the US house of rep line–me laughing out loud…and “colluding” is a perfect word…and yes the shutting down of the whole thing–yes! I like the job of the “finisher” and the threat of outsourcing as a possibility…and the Kerouac/Cummings/Joyce ending…fun and deep…thanks!

    • Hazel says

      The whole piece is so well written and amusing and I felt your last two paragraphs from “None of us gets to be in charge.” to “And, for dead guys, they are always pretty good company.” were just priceless. Thank you so much for such an entertaining bit of writing.

    • Judy says

      Michael, how wonderful is this sentence, “You have chosen to build a nest there of sticks and stones, misspellings and of uptight, arched patterns of speech, in which to brew your bitter medicine and to practice the dark arts of denial and procrastination” and it just gets better. Thank you for clarity, biting humor and good craft, not to mention including three of my fav guy writers.

  13. Ilana says

    My dear girl,

    I love you. I owe you my life. You kept me from trying when even hoping was dangerous. You helped me to be careful and not hope too high. Back then life was a deadly game. Hoping was a gamble that I could not afford to take. I remember the times I fought against you. The failure was crushing, devastating and I would have been better off if I had listened to you and stayed silent. Because of you I am still alive. Thank you.

    Now, though, we are free. We live in a different world now. In this world it is safe to try. It is safe to fail. I understand why you keep trying to hold me back. It’s what you have always done. What you had to do. How can you possibly trust me now? How can you believe that it is safe for us to try? You can’t. Yet you must. Please, trust me. It is finally safe to run joyfully, arms spread wide and take in the beauty that is life.

    The rules have changed. What once kept us safe will now smother us to death. You saved me in the past. Now it is my turn to save you. Take my hand. Trust me. Take a step. Dream a dream, any dream, and I will make it real. You’re scared. I understand. Let me soothe you with the stories of my success. I was afraid to cook but now I’ve made up recipes of my own. I was afraid to travel but I’ve made two trips now, all by myself and gotten where I needed to be.

    Trust me, little one. Take my hand. Come with me and I’ll show you all of the riches life has to offer. It was you who saved my life with your caution and your fears. Now let me show you what I survived to see. It’s a magnificent place, this new world I have found. You just have to shake off the dust of the old one. Shake off the doubts. Shake off the fear and dive in.

    Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s go!

    Ilana

    • says

      Ilana, this was a beautiful piece because you demonstrate what the hurt, angry, undeveloped cut off pieces of ourselves need to unify with the rest of us. I especially loved these stunning lines: “It is finally safe to run joyfully, arms spread wide and take in the beauty that is life. The rules have changed. What once kept us safe will now smother us to death. You saved me in the past. Now it is my turn to save you. Take my hand.”

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Wow…what a view of the critic–I too was moved by the you saved us, now my time to save you line. There is so much understanding for this inner critic/child. I love the critic needs to learn to trust and be free–so enjoyed this exploration–powerful stuff…and thanks for this piece! Bold and risky!

    • Karla says

      Very profound and moving, rising tears in my eyes. I like this place where you’ve arrived, hand in hand with the little one. Thank you for this.

    • Hazel says

      You have made your way through the scary deep dark forest and have emerged into the flowery meadow and you share it all with your critic. This is so moving. Thank you for sharing.

    • Judy says

      Ilana, what a tender rendering to your inner critic. I love the arc of this piece, the gentle shift from fear to potential. This sentence made me smile, “run joyfully, arms spread wide and take in the beauty that is life.” The last one made me weep with joy for you. Nicely done.

    • Debbie says

      Ilana -
      Your approach was so kind and compassionate. Once again, I am forced to consider my own IC with more tenderness. These lines were especially powerful to me, for lots of reasons. Some of them mine, and some of them yours – experiencing your growth over the past two years. Bravo!
      ” It was you who saved my life with your caution and your fears. Now let me show you what I survived to see.”

  14. Lee Xanthippe says

    Dear I.C., (that is Inner Critic—are you an inner critic or are you an inner critic that has absorbed the outer critics and taken me by surprise each time I am feeling weak or even strong…)

    Dear I.C.,
    Why do you Shanghai me?
    (I’m not quite sure of the use of Shanghai—one I said it and then thought it might be racist, but I think this term comes from some kidnapping thing from the past…that’s what someone told me anyway and he doesn’t lie about such historical things but I might have told his story wrong. Ah, third hand history…)

    Dear I.C.,
    Have you noticed that your initial sound like “icy,” but that’s sort of strange because you actually leave me hot—hot with shame and embarrassment.

    Dear I.C.,
    I know you are there to try to make me better but the way you do it makes me feel worse…and doesn’t make me feel better or do any better. Are you a critic? Today on the radio—I don’t know a thing about opera, but they were talking about Verdi—yeah, he would have been 200 today—boy, that’s old…I wonder what his music would be like if he kept on writing, but anyway, there was a guy on the radio who went back and looked at the NY Times reviews of Verdi operas—not 200 years ago : ), and apparently the critics were hard on him, no they didn’t say that—they were something more like insulting—like one would insult a bad Broadway musical.

    But there was a part in the segment (funny that word “segment” like an orange) where they asked if Verdi was considered not good, who was considered good. Wagner, apparently who had written something on theories of the theater and then (at the of Verdi), someone asked Verdi something like, “Well, do you have a theory of the theater?” And he relied, “Yes, it should be full.”

    Critics. I think about popular poets—Mary Oliver and the Trouble with Poetry guy, Billy Collins—“What kind of grown man calls himself ‘Billy’?” my dear friend asks, but anyway, I think about poets although I don’t read that much poetry, I realize, what is so wrong with being a poet that people can understand—I mean, can’t there be a range of poets and a range of poetry—some with masks, some de-masked, some sometimes masked, some clever enough and some superclever, perhaps even some not clever at all but with some charm or maybe some poems with anti-charm. That would be a good name for a chapbook—“Anti-charm.”

    Am I riffing away from the topic at hand—the I.C.—the so hot, yet chilling I.C.?

    Dear I.C,
    The Prompter wants me to banish you. She thinks I should evict you. Kick you out. Dear I.C., are you dear? Are you dear to me? Funny I wrote that sentence first, “Art you dear to me?” and then corrected the “Art” to “Are.” But are you dear to my art, I.C.?
    Perhaps I would like to change my relationship with you.

    You think my house is too messy. You are right, I think, but how can you tell me in a way that does not make me feel bad and judged. And really, it is not you alone—you come with others to tell me such things—my old boss, that friend who keeps a spotless house, that other friend who entertains and feels shame but for no good reason I can see. Or are you even there when they come into my mind to judge me? Maybe you are out making a cup of tea for you or maybe even for me—the way I like it—the good decaf Earl Grey—none of this Stash nonsense—with milk or cream and a tad of sugar.

    Dear I.C.,
    Could you stop making me bad about what is past—the things I did and know better now not to do and would never do again? What is your purpose in bringing up the past? Or is the gold hidden in you? Are you a shapeshifter, my dear I.C.? Certainly, you are powerful enough to unsettle me at my root or roots…do you resist eviction because you are the energy, I need to uncover, question, expose, let see the light? Are you an energy that if not given good outlet, destroys instead? Should I fault you? Do you know what you do, well you do, but do you do it purposely—torture me? Or would you rather be doing something else? Are you doing that something else now, Dear I.C.?

    Funny that I chose right off to call you “dear”…don’t they say, keep your friends close but your enemies closer? I have never liked that saying. I don’t really think you are my enemy although some people’s critics might certainly be, but I have not kept you close, I have kept you away…but a funny thing happens when I bring you close—I can look you in the face and see that you, while seeming mean, are also just doing what you’re supposed to be doing, or at least until, I or we figure out a better thing for you to do. (Am I doing it now?)

    I don’t want you, Prompter, to think I am some softie, some kindie, some never-hurt-a-fly guy or gal, some pacifist who takes a punch. I don’t; I’m not. (But I do say, “I’m sorry” when I kill things—even a mosquito out for my blood. I recognize that she has a life too. I recognize that she’s just doing what she’s supposed to do). I am not a vegan—although ideally, I’d be a vegetarian like I was and probably better than I was before, but I am not the gentle person who cannot write an eviction notice. I haven’t but I can—I guess I want to be careful what and who I evict.

    Especially if she is part of me.

    The therapist said something like, “I’m not that hip on people ‘changing’ themselves.” Okay, she didn’t say the word “hip” but that was the gist of what she meant. I think she realized that people changing themselves to be what they are not doesn’t usually work so well and might be counterproductive at times. She isn’t so hip to make a carrot into a hamburger, she wants to help the carrot be the best carrot it can be.

    Sometimes I wish I was a big drippy hamburger with the works and a side of fries and a milkshake, but I am a carrot—a carrot with ideas but a carrot—sometimes sweet sometimes earth. I like things that help keep me fresh and snappy to the teeth. I like a good scrub. I like the natural long green hair, my handle. I am hard. I am sweet. I am sensitive. If I am not treated right I get floppy, flaccid. The carrot metaphor is not a great metaphor but I tried it.

    This prompt came from a Anne Lamott “Bird” quote about the regular writers who are not all the up and excited each time they write and Lamott mentions, except for the one writer who is all excited but they hate her.
    I think Anne Lamott might hate me. I am not always feeling courageous but as I write, I do feel courageous and I am not always “wildly enthusiastic” but I do feel damn good most of the time, writing.”

    Dear Anne Lamott,
    I hope to be a writer who writes well and with joy. I hope to be the kind of writer you hate. No, not exactly. I guess I hope to be the kind of writer that writes with joy but that you don’t hate. I hope to be the kind of writer that is like my closest friends, the kind of writer who includes you so that my joy becomes your joy, so that my struggles become entangled in yours or at least, I hope to entertain you with whatever comes my way—the numbness, the strange and meaningless accusations, the constipation, the art show that makes me want to write a chapbook for it.

    Dear I.C.,
    I do not wish to evict you at all, but I think if you are here I should start charging you rent, but instead of money, you can sit down sometime and tell me about yourself, about why you do what you do, about any thoughts you might have to kindly get me to the next exit on this highway.
    Love,
    L.X.

    PS Oh, I just re-read the prompt—oh, that person who Anne Lamott hates writes “elegant first drafts”—oh, I don’t that she will hate me but I’m not so concerned. I guess Anne frees people to be human, to be jealous and to laugh—what a great combination—haha.

    PPS And I just got to the page to post and there is the headline: “Screw you, Critic!” Oh, my.
    Dear I.C.,
    I feel I have gotten to know you a little better over the last hour and I thing I like you. And I think you have known me for a good while, but we have never stood so close together in this sort of relationship. I understand that others might have anger towards their critics and want to banish them, but when I saw “Screw you, critic” I at once understood the anger behind this and the power behind this, but I then instantly wondered, what would it be like to screw you. What is that Romeo Void song, “I might like you better if we slept together”? I know I like you better after writing a letter to you, Dear I.C.
    I remember that gal in high school who was being harassed—some guy was saying something mean to her and she gave him a wide smile and she kissed him on the cheek. He stopped, stunned. I think we were all stunned. Was she crazy? Who does that sort of thing? I think her act stopped his act in the act. It was so out-of-the-blue, so counterintuitive, so not what I’d do, it stuck with me.

    Dear I.C.,
    What if each time you lobbed your criticisms at me, your critiques which have become more habitual than literal, more without meaning, what if I blew you a kiss, what if I winked? What would you think?

    • says

      I was really intrigued with your idea that the IC might be a shapeshifter. I’d love to see what would happen if you honed in on that sentence and explored it more.

      I also was intrigued by your ending, “What if I blew you a kiss? What if I winked?”

    • Ilana says

      Lee- I liked the way your understanding of IC was fluid, like you didn’t always have the same relationship. I was also intrigued by the story of the kiss and the wink. I don’t know what would happen but you made me think about it. I love a piece that really makes me think. Thank you. Ilana

      • Lee Xanthippe says

        Thanks Laura and Ilana for reading and for your thoughtful responses : ) I appreciate it!

        I find sometimes that I write with, around, and against prompts–like trying to figure out what something is–what is this rock in my hand, it’s weight and smell. What happens if I throw it? Does it bounce or shatter? Or if I sit next to the lopsided rock, do I notice it’s rough spots of smooth ones, does this rock become foe or friend?

    • Judy says

      Lee, I like the notion of IC as shapeshifter, it reminded me of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere or Jack Kerouac. I also like the idea and unexpected behavior of the high school girl with the kiss and wink and how you used it for your summary. When your post is that free flowing stream of consciousness style, I usually grab a fresh cup of…yes… earl gray, read slowly and just let your words roll around my mind, feeling that I’m on the road again. Thank you, time for a fresh cup.

  15. Diana says

    Ilana,
    I love the evolution of this piece from the time the Inner Critic was useful to a time now being not as useful and facing a time to grow together.

  16. says

    Dear Inner Critic,

    You have been driving me for decades, you with your little whip and chair, always crawling up my abdomen insisting that I do more. You are a harsh taskmaster and I am exhausted by your relentless demands. I know that you have been trying to protect me, that you don’t want me to fall into that empty pit that you sense is inside me, but you know what, that pit can’t hurt me anymore. I can look down and see a hole there, but I am perfectly capable of walking around it. And if I do fall in, you can throw me down a rope, or I can climb out all by myself, brush myself off and continue on my journey.

    I wonder, little man, if you are tired—if you are worn out from 50+ years of keeping me from the brink. What if we sat down together and had a cuppa tea or a dram of whisky. I brought some back from Scotland and I haven’t broken the seal. How about if we have a drink together, kick off our shoes and get acquainted? I think you don’t realize that I’m a grown-up now. And that I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I’m able to say “No, I don’t want to do that,” or “Hell no!” Or, “F-you,” if that’s what’s required.

    Come sit by my side so I can assure you that I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I am learning to slow down, in fact. I am learning that I have absolutely zero to prove and that the only things I need to do anymore in my life are the things I really, truly want to do. I no longer have anyone to please or live up to or prove myself to. I am good enough exactly as I am. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to grow; I do, but I am going to start every day as if I am enough right now, ready to face each moment as a whole person, not a wounded one.

    I can sense your fear, little man. I’m sorry. I can see your quaking in your boots thinking I’m going to toss you out in the cold after all your many years of service. But I wouldn’t do that to you. You are part of my family; you are part of me. But it’s time for you to hang up your whip (in fact, why don’t we burn it?) and take off those high-laced black shoes and loosen your belt and set that clipboard down.

    We can just hang out now, you and I. I’d like to know where you came from, and what you sacrificed to protect me all those years.

    And yeah, I guess I really need to thank you. You did protect me when I needed protecting. You did keep me from falling in the pit when I was too small to do it myself. But now—now let’s get to know each other. Let’s sit back and watch the world go by. Let’s accomplish exactly—nothing. Let’s stop doing anything at all that we don’t want to do.

    Let’s see if we can unravel the mystery of pleasure and spaciousness and presence together. Let’s stop working together and start breathing together. I love you, little man, come closer, sit beside me and kick off those shoes.

    • Lee Xanthippe says

      Beautiful–love the way it all came together–the little man and the whip and the chair…and the getting to know each other at the end–”Let’s accomplish exactly–nothing. Let’s stop doing anything at al that we don’t want to do.” And unraveling “the mystery and spaciousness…” I felt the history of the critic man, the job he’d done and this pulling him closer that pulled me in closer. Thank you!

    • Karla says

      Laura, I was completely intrigued by your gendered choice of “little man” and the images that “high-laced black shoes”, a whip, tight belt, and a clipboard evoked. The juxtaposition of such a strong image and the acknowledgment of his fear seemed to perfectly capture the courage as well as the vulnerability of the “critic” role in the lives of probably many of us. I also had a strong sense of how a critic can be constricting, a sort of boxing-in where the restraint feels safe but there is a yearning for more (or less, depending on what the “it” is). There was such a sweetness in the way you approached him, with confidence in yourself as well as gratitude for all that he has done– along with the invitation to collaborate as you move forward into a less hurried and more intentional life. Thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Ilana says

      Laura- I loved this piece. The whole thing was like a beautiful intreicate dance between you and the “little man”. The line that really touched me was this one. ” I am going to start every day as if I am enough right now, ready to face each moment as a whole person, not a wounded one.” I’m going to try to start each day like that too. Thank you! Ilana

    • Hazel says

      Laura,
      As you started this piece the ring-master of a circus came to mind and I thought that was the way you were going but it wasn’t exactly like that. He was just trying to keep you from going over the edge. You were the animal he was trying to protect. But now you want to “Let’s see if we can unravel the mystery of pleasure and spaciousness and presence together. Let’s stop working together and start breathing together. I love you, little man, come closer, sit beside me and kick off those shoes.” It may take a while to come to this.

      Thank you Laura for such an evocative bit of writing. It is such fun to have you write with us.

    • Judy says

      Laura, I love the harmony in this writing. The slow pace, the image of sharing a wee dram as you each ‘kick off our shoes and get acquainted.’ Truly, there are so many glorious sentences, but this one stands out, ” I no longer have anyone to please or live up to or prove myself to. I am good enough exactly as I am.” Ahh, standing in your truth with wisdom, beauty and acceptance. Thank you for sharing these.

    • Debbie says

      Laura – I always enjoy it when you post, too. These lines resonated strongly with me – thanks for sharing them.
      “I no longer have anyone to please or live up to or prove myself to. I am good enough exactly as I am. That doesn’t mean I don’t like to grow; I do, but I am going to start every day as if I am enough right now, ready to face each moment as a whole person, not a wounded one”
      I want to start every day as if I am enough right now!!

  17. martine says

    Dear inner critic
    this love affair is over! You’ve been swooning me for a long time and I am ready for real love. The kind that empowers and sustains me. The kind that makes me feel seen, heard and validated. You only want me to flicker a dim light…like a lantern that is burning it’s last fumes…choking to be seen. I was taken by your initial offer to protect me, to stand by me when no one else in my world would. You felt like a safe place to rant and howl ~ share complaints and anger. We hated the world together..but then you took my voice..no… I gave it to you..seduced by the power of rage and pain. I needed an ally and we became quite a powerful force…who knew the day would come that I would individuate ~ and break the pact of our bond ~ me climbing bloody fingers gripped upon the cliffs of change. Horizon far but so worthy of this journey…a new world of freedom… stark but quiet “knowing”…that I am enough and all is well. Echoing wisdom takes your place and I forgive your ignorance as I forgive my own. Now focusing and listening intently to the sweet call of vulnerability and grace…that has no room for judgment…just love… the kind that encompasses ALL ~

    • says

      Martine, welcome to the Roadmap blog. What a great first post! I love this proclamation of what you deserve in life. I loved the line, “We hated the world together, but then you took my voice…”

      • martine says

        Thank you Laura…you are an inspirational model for me of deep honesty and words, permission has been granted…. I feel a door has opened since I met you. Namasté

    • Karla says

      I really enjoyed this and thought your language was beautiful and I think that the stream-of-consciousness voice worked really well in this piece. I was also really struck by this:

      “I am ready for real love. The kind that empowers and sustains me. The kind that makes me feel seen, heard and validated.”

      That just rings so true for me. I know that I have felt most loved when I have felt deeply heard– even though this hasn’t always occurred with the people who say they love me the most.

    • Hazel says

      Martine,
      This sounds like a new beginning, wonderfully stated, ” Now focusing and listening intently to the sweet call of vulnerability and grace…that has no room for judgment…just love… the kind that encompasses ALL ~”

      Thank you for sharing.

  18. MaryL says

    Dear Inner Critic,

    How many signs do you need to be convinced that Mary is a very good writer and a superb person …. 15 books … 20 books … a bookstore full?
    Dig out that old junior high school poem she wrote, the First Prize in the Harvest Festival Contest, and awaken her teacher, Elizabeth Connellan, who only affirmed and challenged her.

    I cannot afford your “services” which have, btw, been really off!
    Sincerely, MaryL

    • Judy says

      MaryL, love love love this line, “I cannot afford your ‘services’ which, btw, been really off.” Nicely done piece.

    • Hazel says

      I truly liked your first question: “How many signs do you need to be convinced that Mary is a very good writer and a superb person …. 15 books … 20 books … a bookstore full?” and then your last statement “I cannot afford your “services” which have, btw, been really off!” I can relate to that. How many times has my IC told me that something would not workout but I have gone ahead and done them anyway and been pleasantly surprised at the fruitful outcome?

      Thank you for sharing this succinct bit of writing.

  19. Terry Gibson says

    Out out, damned critic! Did you really think I would let this go on?

    Forever? You cracking your whip whenever you like, forcing me to dance foolishly like a puppet. You had to know! That I would not keep you around forever. That I would expel you as fast as humanly possible for me. Yes. It took me awhile but I got here! I had a load of crap to wade through but I am on to you now.

    Dissecting my every thought. Feeling. Action. Ready to pounce on me as a cat does a toy mouse.

    Making me writhe under bright lights. Submit to the science of your thorough scrutiny.

    Well, let me tell you. I have been eyeballing you for some time now. Full on. How could I not be curious about you?

    You, who would have me hurl myself through a window. You, who would have me throw myself off a cliff. You, who would have me drive a car into a rock face. You, for whom I would relinquish my struggle, cast off this life.

    I must say that you have amazing research and analytical skills. Yes. That is a compliment.

    Good question. Why would I ever heap accolades upon you?

    I flatter you because you do your research. You know exactly what to say to me. Chipping away at my hull until your fingertips bleed. Until my tenuous foundation screeches under the burden and is soon all but gone.

    You know there are several steps to the eviction appeal process. Like in the movie The Tenant, starring Michael Keaton, you know that during that spanse of time, you get to stay on rent-free. Squatting on and smothering my every chance to know confidence. What it might feel like to embody it.

    What a good gig you have! Did have.

    Hear me now: you can no longer score in this game. The job to which you appointed yourself is now obsolete. You are done. Finished. Outta here!

    I am no longer your tolerant, ever-appeasing host. Incidentally, she is moving out too, right alongside you.

    Pout pout, deflated critic.

    • Hazel says

      Terry,
      You have really looked at your IC every which way. It is impressive. “I flatter you because you do your research.” and so have you, Terry. You have seen the critic for what it is. I heard the resolve in your final statement, “I am no longer your tolerant, ever-appeasing host. Incidentally, she is moving out too, right alongside you.” Good writing. Thank you for sharing.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks Hazel! So, if I ever see you in NM, my IC will not be a problem. No third plate necessary at restaurant.

    • Karla says

      Terry, I think this worked really well as a piece, with the emphasis on your-job-is-obsolete, you are no longer needed, an interesting perspective that is neither hostilely confrontative to the critic or conciliatory/negative towards it either. Writing from that perspective was very effective in illuminating how you feel about or what your relationship to your critic is like in a very nuanced, sophisticated way, and I really enjoyed that. As a reader, I experienced it as very cohesive and the imagery you created at many points emphasized that. Lovely ;) and thanks for sharing

      • Terry Gibson says

        Karla, thanks so much! I didn’t know how I’d approach this one so did it via a timed writing practice. It was strange but I had fun with it.

    • says

      Terry, I really enjoyed reading this. I especially loved, “What a good gig you have! Did have.

      “Hear me now: you can no longer score in this game. The job to which you appointed yourself is now obsolete. You are done. Finished. Outta here!

      “I am no longer your tolerant, ever-appeasing host.”

      Atta-girl, you tell it like is!

      • Terry Gibson says

        Thanks, Laura. I guess that ‘tell it like it is’ thing is my style. It’s what I do; it’s comfy to me.

      • Terry Gibson says

        Diana, thanks a lot! I enjoyed working it out as the writing went on, and ending up strong and giving that tosser and layabout mouthpiece the old heave-ho. :)

    • Mary Carlson says

      Awesome, Terry! Put on those boxing gloves! I loved the personification of the critic, and the way you portray him in complete opposition to yourself. I think that’s a helpful way to break free–recognize that the critic is not your true self, but an unwanted tenant. Very cool imagery you have chosen, the critic as tenant, who is “squatting on and smothering my every chance to know confidence.” The critic as squatter! Great word choice! Kick that sucker to the curb!

    • Debbie says

      Yeah Terry! I liked questioning the flattery of that which hurts you – and your response
      “I flatter you because you do your research. You know exactly what to say to me. Chipping away at my hull until your fingertips bleed. Until my tenuous foundation screeches under the burden and is soon all but gone.”
      Hope the IC is gone – no forwarding address!

  20. Alyssa Johnson says

    Dear Inner Critic:

    You have been my constant companion for 35 years always making sure to let me know when you are disappointed in me, my actions, or what I’ve said. You are the constant voice of disapproval, always piping up even when your opinions are neither solicited nor wanted. I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got. I show up to the best of my abilities at every moment. And I contribute in the most meaningful ways that I can.

    I’m now writing you to say goodbye. Thank you for your contributions throughout the years – for your persistence and neverending flow of thoughts. But you’ve outgrown your stay and I’m remodeling my insides and there is no room for you – you clash with the decor. You don’t fit in with the feng shui of my interior architecture. I’m here to do great things – to share my voice and gifts with the world and I can’t have you holding me back. My path already has enough brambles and weeds for me to navigate. I don’t need your quicksand and volatile weather changes. I send you on your way to a better place in the Universe; a place where you are loved, supported, and needed.

    Perhaps we will reunite when I have crossed over and returned home. Until then, please don’t come around here as I have nothing to offer you.

    With love,
    Alyssa

    • Karla says

      Alyssa, I thought the perspective you took in this piece and the metaphors you used made for a very fun and engaging read. These were great sentences: “you clash with the decor. You don’t fit in with the feng shui of my interior architecture.” Thank you for sharing this with us.

    • says

      Dear Alyssa, I loved the strength and compassion that concurrently ran through this piece. These were my favorite lines, “But you’ve outgrown your stay and I’m remodeling my insides and there is no room for you – you clash with the decor. You don’t fit in with the feng shui of my interior architecture.” That made me laugh. Thank you!

    • Hazel says

      Alyssa,
      I really liked your point of view of ” I’m remodeling my insides” was quite unique. “You don’t fit in with the feng shui of my interior architecture.” this line says it all, not only do you not fit, you do not harmonize with my new way of life. In the next sentence you go on to explain how your life is going to change, ” I’m here to do great things – to share my voice and gifts with the world and I can’t have you holding me back.” You are not just kicking the IC out you “send you on your way to a better place in the Universe; a place where you are loved, supported, and needed.” You have ended the relationship for now with “Perhaps we will reunite when I have crossed over and returned home. Until then, please don’t come around here as I have nothing to offer you.” What a nice way to say, I’ll see you when I’m dead, maybe.

      Good read, really enjoyed it, made me smile. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Cheryl Espinosa-Jones says

    Yesterday, I was standing at the kitchen counter talking to my wife. This is not unusual. Between us, I am more the talker, she the listener. A few paragraphs in, here’s what came out of my mouth: “If the world holds me back, o.k.! But I’m ready to be done with ME holding me back!” She said, “You should write that down,” and I went into our bedroom with a piece of scrap paper, wrote it down, and propped it up next to the mirror, where I go each day to put on earrings or take some parking change out of the jar. Today, I find myself coming in just to look at the paper, obviously scrap paper, with fold lines across and down, and I read the words, in my own handwriting and I smile. I think to myself, “who cares how that came to be true now that it is!?” Inside my own head, I hear, “you can” and I like the sound of it. In my own voice. As many times a day as I can remember.

    • says

      Dear Cheryl,

      Welcome to the Roadmap Blog. I love that you shared this moment of choice and insight with us. I especially loved the line, “Inside my own head, I hear, ‘You can,’ and I like the sound of it.”

      You go girl.

      I hope you come back and become a regular member of our community. So glad you found us.

    • Mary Carlson says

      Yes, yes, YES! “…I’m ready to be done with ME holding me back!” The great thing about writing down a powerful statement like that…is that it becomes more real. I’m convinced that the act of writing helps to make our will concrete.

      And I LOVE your comment, “Who cares how that came to be true now that it is!?” It speaks to how truths can unfold inside us, and tumble out, and become self-evident. We don’t need a lawyer to ferret out the truth–our intuitive, reptilian brain can reveal it when we listen.

      Thanks, Cheryl,. Your words are bracing an give me courage!

      • Cheryl Espinosa-Jones says

        Thank you so much for your words!! I am in a time of growing past the previous limits, and someone else resonating with the words that come of that keeps me going!!! I hope you are experiencing the liberation that I am.

  22. Mary Carlson says

    I remember how tortured I was in high school, trying to write the perfect essay. Usually the teacher would compound my agony by telling us to “write about anything.” Oh, thanks–that narrows things down.

    Now I like to grab readers by the throat and demand to be heard. After a mute childhood, a young adulthood spent lost and wandering, and now a compromising maturity (stay employed at all costs!) I am not just ready to silence my inner critic! I am ready to murder him!

    Here’s what I say: There are worse things that having your employer discover your blog. (For readers who might recall an earlier posting of mine…I have been evicted from my classroom where I teach music in order to make room for another “classroom teacher.” In 10 days I move into the copy room.) Enough about that, except to say that the institution of public education can put a frightening muzzle on its teachers who speak against injustice.

    Here’s what else I say: Memoirs require tremendous courage when your family members are still alive! The critic–damn him!–says wait until all are dead and mute. The critic doesn’t care that some Scandinavians live nigh unto 100. Should I wait till all potentially offended parties die, I will be lost in a fog of Alzheimer’s.

    And another thing: the best drafts are the angry, passionate, embarrassing drafts because THEY ARE ALIVE. The critic–extinguish him!–says to smooth things out. Avoid repetitive pronouns. Run the draft through the “mother filter.” (Would you want your mother to read this?)

    My mother is dead. I mourn her every day, but she also spent a lifetime being nice. I choose another filter. My new filter asks, “What is the cost of NOT being truthful?” The price is high–despair, self-loathing, self-doubt, self-annihilation.

    There is a 16-year-old-girl, now in England, formerly from Pakistan. You know her. She spoke out against the Taliban’s ban on educating girls. They shot her in the head. When asked if she is fearful because she continues to speak out against injustice, she says, “Why should I be afraid? I’ve already seen death.”

    The critic is as powerful as the Taliban. It threatens us with death. So we do not speak, and we become dead anyway.

    I want to grab the world by the throat and scream, “I am alive! I will speak!”

    Then, when you throw dirt on my grave, I will at least know that I did not at my own hands.

    • Mary Carlson says

      Aaaugh! The Gestalt of it all! I left out a crucial word: ” Then, when you throw dirt on my grave, I will at least know that I did not DIE at my own hands.” Gosh, I guess I was so overcome by my own profundity, I skipped the pivotal word. I am humbled.

    • Karla says

      Mary, I thought this was very, very powerfully worded and I actually read “die” into the last sentence before I saw your note. I really loved how you integrated the words of Malala into the theme of this piece. Thank you for posting.

      • Mary Carlson says

        Thanks, Karla! I’m glad your brain filled in the gap in my words. On another note, this online community has been a little confusing for me…. I appreciate your earlier not about the reader not needing to apologize to the writer. Your response was generous. I am greatly inclined to interpret through my own lens, which is probably a little distorted by my current circumstances. That leads me to comment strongly, and identify where I find threads in common with my own. I don’t want to alienate anyone…but I have an enormous backlog of energy around certain subjects. Silencing is one of them.

        In college my poetry professor called me a muscular writer. I think he was taken aback; I took it as a compliment. I want to be muscular and kind at the same time.

        • says

          Mary, you may want to read the Community Guidelines on the FAQ page I’ve created at the top of the Roadmap blog page.

          We’re not here to critique each others’ work or discuss their motives–rather, focus on what you liked and what worked for you in a given writer’s work.

        • Karla says

          Hi Mary,
          I would definitely take “muscular writer” as a compliment and I think that is not orthogonal to also writing kindly.
          I understand what Laura is saying here, but I also resonate with the confusion about what is most productive to be said in this community. I think I am on the same page with you that silencing is something to be avoided. I didn’t consider your original comments to me to be critique or wrong in any way. I had a reaction and wanted to communicate it, I might not have done that in the best way possible, but like you (I think, I am not trying to put words in your fingers) I’d rather err on the side of saying something rather than feeling I want to say something but not.

          • Mary Carlson says

            A most excellent way to end this conversation. Thank you, Karla. You’ve given me peace on this.

  23. Tasha Zigerelli says

    My name is Tasha and i am new to the writers roadmap and very happy to have found and inspiring online community in which i can write. This prompt could not have come at a more divine time then right now. Thank you for hearing my cry. This is my first post.

    Dear inner critic,

    Well, I must start by saying this eviction has been long overdue. Although I must say it has been fun exploring the slums of my mind with you by my side. But the time has come, for you to get the fuck out. It’s time for you to leave the depths of my insides, to let me have a true chance of healing from my tormented and twisted past. You have been infecting the cells of my happiness like a slow form of painful cancer, poisoning any chance I have at moving forward, of letting go of my wrongdoings, and of allowing myself to love and be loved. Therefore I will ask you politely, to drop the swords and let me move on.

    The worry, self piety, self doubt and all other malicious feelings you have been ravaging my mind with are going to quickly fly out the window and soon enough true peace and alignment will come shining through. Now I understand you really enjoy being with me, and this space has been nothing the most perfect breeding ground for you to quickly multiply and bring me down in one swift and final swoop. But I am standing up to you, and today is the declaration of my independence from you and your self limiting bullshit I have believed for these past few months. I will be free. I will be happy. I will be taken care of. I will be a living light. I will be successful. This will all be so easy once you pack up and leave. Thank you for your lessons, and thank you for your understanding.
    Goodbye hopeless critic.

    • Debbie says

      Tasha – welcome to the Roadmap! I was very impressed with the powerful imagery of your writing. Especially these lines:

      “You have been infecting the cells of my happiness like a slow form of painful cancer, poisoning any chance I have at moving forward, of letting go of my wrongdoings, and of allowing myself to love and be loved.”

      Terrific writing – please come back and share more!

  24. Hazel says

    Hi Tasha,
    Welcome, I hope you hang in here with us.

    I liked your bit of writing. You start off with a strong statement, “this eviction has been long overdue” and carry on right through to the finish of “Thank you for your lessons, and thank you for your understanding.
    Goodbye hopeless critic.” You have been very clear what your intentions are and what your expectations are now all you have to do is live it.

    Here it is all about the writing and the writing only. Loved it.
    Hazel ?;)

    • Tasha Zigerelli says

      Thank you, feeling the energetic love and support here most definitely! looking forward for more! blessings and gratitude!

  25. Bobbie Anne says

    Okay. Write an eviction letter to your inner critic. Hey, I wrote critic without a capital C. So there. Seriously, this inner critic has been such a huge presence in my life, that now I am going to take the time out to make it a smaller part of my life. I am hereby giving it notice to quit. It will now stop being so critical.

    Who is this inner critic anyway? Is it the old tapes of others who judged, taught, or made fun of me? Why am I listening to what they say? And just who are they? Is what they are saying old, outmoded and just not true, if it ever was, anymore.

    I release my inner critic. I let it go gently into the good night. I wish it well.
    I no longer need, if I ever did, it any more.

    So good bye, inner critic. I wish you well.

  26. beverly Boyd says

    I’ve been hanging out for almost a week since first reading the quote from Annie Lamont and this prompt. I didn’t seem to be able to get upset enough with my critic to say “Screw you!” Was I in denial? I did not think so and I don’t think so now. The other writers seemed to be getting in touch with a critic that had to be evicted and they were doing so with great gusto to cheers from our fellow writers. Did I just not belong on this blog? Was I just forcing the issue to fit in? One thing I knew I wasn’t going to do was write an eviction notice that I didn’t have any real energy for.

    It has been almost forty years since the official beginning of my recovery, i.e. the night I stepped into the room of my first twelve-step meeting. There also had been some recovery before: sometimes through intuitive awareness, sometimes in periods of spiritual growth, sometimes in therapy. There were occasional brief visual or audible hallucinations, which seemed to be about getting my attention to something that was going on. But I couldn’t seem to get enough traction to keep from the panic that I was going to slip off the road. There weren’t many people I dared to talk to. I was sure they would think I was a total basket case,or worse, which I knew I was not, …especially where the hallucinations and voices were concerned. I knew they were fine because I never got a message to do harm to anyone and they almost always gave me an insight…were an “aha” moment, and there was usually a recognizable positive outcome.

    Even then there was a critic that was not a good friend.

    That critic told me that if I was going to have seven children I had to be even better mother than if I only had one or two. My children had to be well behaved, look clean and cared for. My house had to be tidy, my kitchen floor “clean enough to eat off of”. I couldn’t just send them to scouts or other activities and let someone else be responsible for keeping them going.

    There was my Mother’s voice telling that certain behaviors were not fitting for a minister’s daughter. I often heard my mother’s voice when I was directing my children and realized that message had not helped me and would not help my children.

    Could I find a better way to get that point across or even let go of the need to say it at all? I think that was my helpful inner critic giving me that inspiration.

    I really believe it is okay to write that shitty first draft, or even if it is a fairly good one, it will most likely benefit by some feedback from my inner critic or my writing support group.

    After a week when I look at what I wrote, I’m likely to notice too many run on sentences, over use of “and” and “but”. Can I find another word rather than using that one three times? Is the cadence boring? How about detail? Do they add the writing it or are they too strenuous, clever and actually detract from the writing. My critic sometimes says, “I really like the way you put that…or your choice of words was right on.”

    Sometimes, my critic lets me know I put too much salt in the soup, or I might not have the migraine today if I hadn’t eaten the chocolate yesterday. I’d feel more calm and peaceful coming home after a busy day if I hadn’t been greeted by an unmade bed. My critic reminds me that I spent too much time with yet another version of the daily jigsaw puzzle to be able to take the time to pick up after myself when I got ready to dash out the door this morning.

    Right now my critic is telling me, ”There you go again. 667 words already. You always seem to have such long posts!”
    “Get thee behind me, critic! It is what it is, and I am posting it this way.”

    “And what’s more you don’t need to get out the wet noodle when you notice a typo or other mistake spell check and I both missed almost immediately after I press the “Post Comment” button!

    Yes, I still have a critic, but it doesn’t run my life. It even gives me good feedback. I consider it my ally!

    It’s been along journey; it’s not over. But forty years counts for something!

    For those of you more recently on the path to recovery let me say. “There is light at the end of the tunnel!”
    Critic: “That’s pretty cliché, don’t you think?”
    Me: “I don’t care I’m using it anyway!”

  27. Debbie says

    Each morning, like the swirling mists drifting off the cool mountain lakes when kissed by the humid morning air, I arise with my inner critic. A maelstrom of messy emotions collides with the cold, heartless logic creating shrouds of fog, clouding my vision, choking off my voice.

    The daily diatribe of sarcastic, heartless observations begins:

    “Your hair is not golden, it is gray.
    Your face is full of imperfections growing more obvious every day.
    That dress shows cleavage, surely you are not considering wearing it to work
    But then, who would notice anyway

    You didn’t write anything yesterday
    Never were able to apply yourself with persistence to anything
    Don’t blame you though, your writing is trite and common
    You should really read more – really great writers-
    Realize how far you still have to go

    Good thing you have the dogs
    Who else would even notice you otherwise
    If you can’t see yourself reflected in someone else’s eyes
    It’s really like being invisible, isn’t it

    There is no one anymore who thinks you are special
    You are not special,
    Just average, ordinary, plain
    Nothing special, n o t h I n g s p e c I a l

    The cacophony of criticisms rises to a crescendo
    Nearly drowning out the little voice gently reminding
    “Follow the breath”
    Ears ringing, blood pressure rising,
    Sometimes tears falling
    Quietly there is the urging
    “Follow the breath”

    In desperation, I push the belly out, deeply inflate the lungs
    Feeling every molecule of life sustaining oxygen
    Amazingly, there is silence
    Blessed quietude.
    “Follow the breath”
    Continuing to deeply inhale gratitude, sunshine, friendship
    The waves of fresh breath surround my heart,
    Muffling the derogatory self-talk
    Peace the antithesis to pain
    I curve around the quiet and hold on.

    • Diana says

      Debbie,
      I related to many of your IC criticism esp about writing. This sounded like my own negative self talk and how it “drowns out” the gentle voice.

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