My Constant Companion: the Inner Critic

Get thee to a nunneryThis week’s topic is “The Care and Feeding of Our Inner Critics.” And let me tell you, my inner critic does not need to be fed. She is a gluttonous, double-chinned nun, a specter of my Catholic School days. Her black habit flows straight down from her ample chest. You can’t tell what’s all underneath there, but you don’t want to know anyway.

I’ll tell you what’s keeping her plump, though. It’s the chatter that bounces around in my brain, sometimes quiet and sometimes loud, but never, never ceasing. She feeds off my stores of self-doubt, and she’s always hungry for more.

When I sit down to write, she shakes her head. “You really think you can do this again? Remember how hard that last book was to write? I don’t think you can do it again. Or, at least, not as well.”

When I go to bed, her voice echoes in my head, scrutinizing my day and what I could have done better. “You should have written more words today. Not gotten short with your son when he splashed in the dog’s water bowl AGAIN. You should have checked more things off your to-do list at the office today. Tsk tsk.”

She’s loud and opinionated and judgmental and sometimes deluded, my inner critic. But she’s not all bad. She forces me to read my manuscripts just one more time, to catch those last few typos. Her fear-mongering, never-quit attitude helped me study for the LSAT, pass the bar exam, make it to the top of Dead Woman’s Pass on the Inca Trail, and birth my son.

She can be very helpful sometimes, my inner critic. But I really do wish she’d take a vow of silence now and then.

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Susan Gloss is the author of the novel VINTAGE (William Morrow/HarperCollins, March 2014). When she's not writing, toddler wrangling, or working as an attorney, she blogs at Glossing Over It and curates an online vintage store, Cleverly Curated.

4 thoughts on “My Constant Companion: the Inner Critic

  1. Awww, the infamous Catholic guilt–being on a loop of constant confessionals is no fun. I hope you’re able to silence her more often than not, Susan. 🙂

  2. Oh my goodness, I didn’t know you hiked the Inca Trail! Me too! Though it’s been years…I went in 2000, and I’m desperate to go back and take my husband, who’s never been to Peru.

    And by the way, perhaps our inner critics have been exchanging notes. This line: “You really think you can do this again?” That’s verbatim what mine says to me.

  3. Oh, Catholic School! Great training ground for our inner critics, that’s for sure. I’m bad enough already; can’t imagine what I’d be like with nuns in my past!

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