Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors, once said the following about writing: "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they're doing it.”
The goal of this challenge – officially beginning on Monday – is to learn to trust the process enough to write that shitty first draft. Let's start out by doing this: write a letter to your inner critic, and let them know they are fired. Done. Tell that critic to pack up a box of their stuff and get out. Take the weekend to think this prompt over; good ideas should marinate!
Dear Inner Critic,
Well, we've been together a long time now. You might not be surprised to hear that I've got some bad news for you. We're done.
For years, when I was making my music, I wouldn't let anyone hear it because you seemed to think that it wasn't up to the mark. Then, you told me that I shouldn't do public speaking, because you thought that I sucked at it. I believed you. However, somehow I did it anyway and it was ok. You were wrong about it. You were wrong about the music too - some people actually like it. I even published some singing on the Internet - you hated that didn't you. Yet a few people really loved it. Wrong again.
Well, now I'm going to be producing and publishing more writing. I realise that this drives you crazy, and you'll take it out on me. So, although it's hard, we're going to have to part company. Writing is a thing that I really want to do. Creating stuff makes me happy. On the rare occasions when I write stuff for my website, people do read it. Not many, true, but nobody except you ever tells me that my writing is not good enough to show to the world.
I suppose it'll probably take you a bit of time to move out, but please forgive me if I don't listen to you in the mean time. You've never been on my side, have you? I wish that you could take a break from criticism to explain to me what you're trying to achieve. Why would you try so hard to undermine me? After all, you *are* me. Surely we live and die together? Both our lives would be better if you would just allow me to do the creative stuff that I aspire to do.
Of course, I say that you are me, but that doesn't seem quite right. You've been hanging around inside my head for years now, but does that mean that you're actually *me*? Perhaps you're the remnant of some destructive teacher or other, or perhaps you're some sort of nightmarish hybrid of some of the less charming people that were in my class during my secondary education. Perhaps you are simply a demon shouting down my better angels. A virus running on the computer of my brain. In the end, it doesn't really change anything, though, does it. You have to go.
So, please go away and don't come back. Don't try to argue, my rumblings of rebellion are finally turning to an insurrection. I've made up my mind. I know that I'll make an idiot of myself, and I just don't care. I know that I'm a tiny voice in a huge world, and that not many people are interested in what I have to say. Still, I don't care. I've heard it all before, and none of it matters. So please get your stuff and leave. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Goodbye for ever,