How often does your inner writing critic show up? You’re typing out your latest blog, and then you stop to pause and thing, “No, no, that’s not good.” That’s when you hit the backspace button and write something else. But it’s not over yet; you stop to pause, and think again, “I should change this to something else.”
Ah. Writing can be cruel. No wonder there are so many blogs not maintained. The pressure of having a well-maintained blog can lead you to having an overbearing critic inside your head. Our content needs to be interesting and engaging for our followers. And that just adds more pressure.
You are not alone!
How widespread is this problem? A quick Google search will turn up endless articles about overcoming your inner writing critic.
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
– Sylvia Plath
I’ve met many content creators that will invest hours into writing a blog post, only to come up with a few sentences. My girlfriend runs her own health and nutrition blog – and when she’s writing next to me, she’ll often ask, “How does this sound?”
The critic will never go away.
Sorry to disappoint you, but your inner critic is always going to be there. It’s the logical part of your brain that wants you to produce an awesome post for your followers.
The problem is that you’re using your inner critic at the wrong time.
Your brain has two sides: the logical left side, and the creative right side. When it comes to writing, your logical side is responsible for perfecting your content. It’s what makes your content sound good. Your creative side is responsible for the content itself. It’s where your ideas come from.
The inner writing critic is the logical side of your brain getting involved when it should just be your creative side working. When you draft and revise work at the same time, you’re flip-flopping between the sides, which paralyzes you.
Change your writing process.
I want you to try something different the next time you write. Instead of your usual routine of drafting and revising at the same time, focus on one at a time. In other words, type out all of your content and no matter how bad, childish, or amateur it is, do not revise it. Just write.
Examples of revising include:
- rewriting or deleting sentences
- spell checking
- changing tones
- adjusting fonts
I know you’ll be tempted to fix your mistakes as you’re writing, but avoid those temptations. Your work will look like a mess at first, but that’s ok. Don’t allow yourself to edit. This is how you avoid your inner writing critic altogether.
Your first objective is to fill your pages with words, not to make something engaging. Just write and do not stop until you have all your words down.
Perform a “knowledge dump” of all your content before you start revising. If you fill your pages with unedited material first, you’ll notice that your inner critic is silenced. Your focus changes from, “Is this good?” to “What else can I say?”
After, and only after you have enough text for your content quantity-wise, start revising it. Yes, you’ll be revising what may seem like a five year old wrote, but you’ll have something.
The end result is better content, faster.
You may find that you produce better content this way. Instead of a 50/50 split between logic and creativity, you can now give your writing process a 100/100 split. Each side of your brain gets 100% of the attention.
The inner critic comes in handy, but not until it has something to be critical of.
John is the Founder & CEO of Wriber. He’s passionate about entrepreneurship, high-tech startups, thought leadership, content marketing, and artificial intelligence. John frequently volunteers his time at the University of Waterloo to help young entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground. He’s also a faithful Toronto Maple Leafs fan, frequent Redditor, and lifelong learner.