This post is an experiment to get more creativity out of my day. I’ve written this to show two voices that are a part of my writing process. The first, in black, is the inner creator. The second, in red, is the inner critic/guide. I wrote in the creator voice for exactly 20 minutes and then handed the piece over to the critic who deleted, moved, and rewrote parts of it.
We all have an inner critic. Mine is an inner nag. It tells me constantly that I’m not doing something correctly. Even now, when I wrote “inner nag,” it said, “That doesn’t really quite describe me correctly.”
The problem is that I’ve allowed the critic to overstep his bounds. We do need to edit ourselves. but that comes later. First, we need to create. My inner critic is like some nine-foot-tall basketball guard who easily bats away any idea I shoot toward the basket.
How can I get him on my team?
If we’re working at cross purposes, a lot of effort is expended but little work gets done. I want him to help me get every shot into the basket and then later, after I’ve left the court, go back and puncture the balls that don’t fit. Even right now he’s wrestling for control of the keyboard. “That analogy makes no sense!” he’s yelling. “You don’t even know the slightest first thing about basketball. You’re making a fool of yourself!”
So that’s what it’s about. Control and making myself appear foolish.
A couple of months ago, I gave this inner critic the name Staydown. That seems to be the constant message he’s sending. Don’t take a risk. Don’t put yourself out there. Where is this going? I want to guide him to a place where he can guide my creative side. I value your input, sir. You have excellent taste. Please, though, let me do my job first and then you can do yours.
My friend David calls this creative duality night crew versus day crew. The night crew is sloppy and rowdy, but they get lots of stuff done. The day crew comes in the next morning, surveys the damage, and says, “Okay, what can we do with this?”
That is not how my crews have been working. My night crew is forced to work under bright lighting and constant surveillance. The day crew shift foreman sits in a control booth and watches them via closed circuit camera. “What are you doing? Get back to your grid, Number seven. Get away from that instrument. You don’t play music.” My night crew has gotten demoralized. They’ve failed to produce.
I was listening to a Lifehack Live podcast interview with Jurgen Wolff the other day. He recommended that rather than trying to conform all the different parts of your personality, i.e. the curious child who finds wonder in everyday things or Attila the Hun who mercilessly achieves his objectives, you should exploit them to do different tasks. You don’t want the curious child to clean the garage, he said, and you don’t want Attila the Hun to guide your creativity.
I wonder if this personality change can be done with hats? Perhaps if I get my inner guide a fancy hat to wear when editing, he’ll stop intruding on my creativity.