Sparks

The Inner Critic Tar Pit of Doom and Despair

By Su Shafer

Beware the trap that writers often fall into: The Inner Critic Tar Pit of Doom and Despair—the black hole of fear in your head that says you have nothing new or exciting to say or that even if you are personally excited by what you’ve written, it’s not good enough for someone else to read or hear. 

The Tar Pit of Doom and Despair is a creative quicksand that will sink the soul right out of your writing, further feeding the fear of mediocrity. The only way to escape this pit is to get out of your head. 

I’ve found doing timed free writes is a great way to do this. When your time is restricted, you don’t have time to obsess over a word or a phrase and there simply isn’t enough time to polish. There is something freeing and reassuring about that. 

And having a time limit ensures that you can’t get too invested and that what goes on the paper is raw, organic, and unraveled from the sinister inner critic with its conformist ideals.

Play, don’t be afraid to experiment. Use creative prompts to catapult you out of your comfort zone. Don’t try to control or stop what wants to come out. It’s surprising and delightful what valuable nuggets and insights show up. 

Be brave and share your work with others. Other people come to your writing with their own perspectives and will often pull things from your writing that wouldn’t otherwise occur to you. Sharing your work is the only way to get over your fear of sharing your writing. And when you’re not too invested, you can accept both complements and criticism and learn to use them constructively.  

Most importantly, just keep writing.  Do whatever it takes—invent ways to keep your pen scribbling on paper. 

Just keep writing. 

Su Shafer is a creative writer and sometime poet who lives in the Pacific Northwest, where flannel shirts are acceptable as formal wear and strong coffee is a way of life. There, in a small Baba Yaga house perched near the entrance to The Hidden Forest, odd characters are brewing with the morning cup, and a strange new world is beginning to take shape . . .

Note from Marlene: There are over 568 writing prompts on The Write Spot Blog.

Choose one and Just Write!

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