3 Gates for Your Inner Critic

Ever feel like there’s a conspiracy aimed at preventing you from writing? I do.

There’s the need to make an actual living, the wish for rest, the question of “why bother,” the plethora of choices about what to write, the lack of time or space, and the oh-so-helpful (not) inner critic who is all too happy to interfere.

My inner critic thinks she’s nice, but she’s actually a snark. Lately she’s been admonishing me to just give up already. “You’re getting older,” she says, “Don’t you deserve some leisure time? Why must you write? Try reading!”

I’m devoted to helping others develop their writing practices. When their inner critics inevitably appear, I feel protective, and I offer suggestions for removing the small but mighty censors perched on their shoulders.

When it comes to silencing my personal faultfinder, it’s more difficult. She is persistent, manipulative and exceedingly charming.

Yet I have a new arrow in my quiver. It’s a variation on Rumi’s rules regarding speech:

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:

At the first gate, ask yourself “Is is true?”

At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?”

At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

Whenever your inner critic barges in, pass his/her words through those three gates as you listen. Then resume writing.

Photo Credit: Lewis Roberts 

I lead writing workshops in the Bay Area, and spend much of my so-called free time writing. To support my avocation (and my family) I sell residential real estate in San Francisco; for more about that visit RealEstateTherapy.org or CynthiaCummins.com.