Names for Your Inner Critic

I have a particularly good group of October students who started today.  A couple of them have names for their inner critics.  One calls them “the hag and the nag.”  The other is looking forward to giving that black crow on her shoulder something to peck on besides the words on her page. 

What do you call your inner critics?  I’m sure you have several choice names for them.  Odes to inner critics and hair-tearing rants are also welcome. 

Do tell.

14 responses to “Names for Your Inner Critic

  1. Son of a female dog, and worse.

    • Split Personality

      Picture this: I’m sitting in the sauna stark naked…. No, wait! Probably best for each of us if you don’t picture that.

      Instead: I’m sitting in the sauna with a red ink pen in one hand and a sheaf of papers in the other. I have clothes on (if you must).

      The red ink pen is what I use when the left brain is dominant. I use a black ink pen when the right brain rules.

      I have to tell ya’, I feel rather silly writing about my brain as if it’s two different and distinct entities, but recently I was hanging out in cyberspace with a bunch of writers who didn’t think it laughable at all. In fact, they would nod sagely and with complete empathy when one of us would curse the left brain by yelling something about a female dog, or words to that effect. Then, because they’d been there and done that, they would offer encouraging, helpful words. Throw us a life ring, so to speak. I liked those life rings so much I’ve embraced the left brain-right brain thing myself.

      The right brain, they say, is the creative side, the artistic side, and is where my muse resides. Actually I think she resides in my clock and has her wake up alarm set for two AM. That’s when she comes alive, lures me from between the warm flannel sheets, leads me up the stairs to the computer, and gives me enough words to keep me up the rest of the night.

      For those of us who try to write, the left brain is Lucifer incarnate, the most demanding, unappeasable schoolteacher we ever had, our most merciless critic. If someday you find me curled up in a ball on the floor of my closet, you’ll know that some of my words are about to go public. I’ll be hiding there because my left brain will be crucifying any shred of self-confidence that might still be lurking in the vicinity.

      Some writing instructors say to let the words flow when the spirit moves. Don’t fret about grammar, word choices, punctuation, verbosity, et cetera. Just get those words down and trust that the left brain will take care of the clean up later. They recommend letting the writing cool for at least 24 hours the first time, before you attempt to edit or rewrite.

      If you’re like me, you’ll do three or four rewrites immediately, take a printed draft to bed, read it two or twenty times, mark more changes, get out of bed and turn on the computer. Repeat all the above several times.

      But eventually it must be set aside to cool.

      It’ll be hard to do. See, there’s this thing about writers. They love their words. They will sneak out of bed in the middle of the night, tiptoe to their place of writing, turn on the light or the computer, and read their lovely words. No finer words were ever written. These will be on the NY Times best seller list, for sure.

      Yep. Lovely. We’re all in love with our lovely words. At least for a while. It’s when they cool off that they start to stink. What once was profound is now inane. What once was witty is now absurd. Creative, magical description now screams of purple prose. The left brain rules and it is ugly. It can reduce your right brain to tears and despair.

      Shaddy, one of my cyber classmates, wrote the following:

      Lean to the left,
      Lean to the right,
      Left brain, right brain,
      Fight! Fight! Fight!

      Oh yeah. That says it all.

      So that’s what I was doing in the sauna, clothed or not, with the red pen. I had a bunch of cooled-off stories and I had given the left brain permission to search and destroy. Surprisingly there was very little blood-letting and when I had finished the task the pen still had more red ink in it.

      From this I have deduced two possibilities:

      1. The stories had warmed up again from the heat in the sauna, or,

      2. The right brain was ascendant.

      Halibut Cove, 2006

      • Well that about captures it. Does it ever occur to you that you lead a very interesting life? Say hello to both your sides for me.

      • MODERATOR, PLEASE DELETE MY PREVIOUS POST. I MESSED UP. That’s not my name i put on there, it’s something else that shouldn’t be online.

      • PatsyWatsyPlots

        MODERATOR , Ann, I hate to be a bother but, if you are able to delete the post I sent (it is not showing up yet, it said it was going to be approved by the Moderator), can you please let me know so that I can stop having a heart attack. It was a reply to gullible. My post was ok, it’s just that i put something in the box where my name should go mistake. It had my correct email in the email box. Thank you for your help.

      • I think I did this. If not, let me know.

  2. I had so many “yeah, that’s me!” moments while I read this post! Every once in a while I realize there are others out there just like me and I’m not crazy!

  3. Love it right on. We are not crazy we are writters.

  4. I lovingly call her “omnicritic”. She’s a bland of all that’s terrible in the world.

  5. Through the years I have tried several different names for my ” Inner Critic.” One was Berserka T. Wellington, because she tends to Steamroll through my brilliant creativity and leave it as flat as a tone deaf soprano going for the high note in Ava Maria on Christams Eve.

    Ollie Dimwitty was another name that was attempted because I believe my “Inner Critic” to be a nitpicky nitwit..

    I experimented with the name Uthman DonFodio. That proved impossible to shout out in the heat of frustration and anger.

    Finally, I settled on “SPOT” as in “Out Damed Spot.”
    Who better to vanquish the demon critic but “Macbeth” and the Bard?

    • I think being able to name characters (things, imaginery folks, etc.) is a rare skill. I shall be enjoying myself trying to shout out “Uthman DonFodio” at the top of my lungs from time to time.

      I still get a kick out of reading your addition to our list, “You Know You’re Writer When…” about the woman gets fired from taking minutes at the church meeting because she’s starting to have way too much fun.

  6. I never thought about actually giving my inner critic a name before. After some consideration, I decided it would be The “Z” Witch. Z is the first letter of the last name of my old English/Journalism teacher in high school. I had been a confident writer until she point blank told me an essay I wrote was “crap.” Tough words for a 14 year old to hear. After that I rarely let anyone see my work. I’m sure I cannot blame her completely as my Type A personality steps in to stir things up inside my head, but I’ll always hear those words resounding in my head…..”CRAP.” Next time I am writing and The “Z” Witch makes an appearence, I’ll theoretically drop a house on her head.

  7. I was surprised to find that my own inner critics were my sisters. These days my sisters are my best friends. But growing up with two older sisters in a family who scorned anything corny or weepy definitely stuck some sharp-tongued, eye-rolling and fake-barfing inner critics firmly into my psyche.

  8. S&S on My Shoulder

    Sunday, October 21, 2012
    7:12 AM

    Stinky and Sammy are the names of my inner critic. It depends how what I am writing and how I am doing it. Stinky (the skunk) tells me he thinks I stink with what I’m writing most of the time. While Sammy (the snail) tells me I’m to slow and the world will end before I get the story done.

    Some times they run around the bed behind me and yell You stink at what your written or your to slow hurry up. Some of what they yell I will not write, the paper will catch on fire. I often go for a walk to get their yelling out of my head. When I come back I tell they to go sit in a corner and face the wall and never speak to me again. But they are a bit stronger than me so they get out every now and again.

    S&S as I call them now are right here one on each shoulder looking at what I’m writing. I put my hand up for silence. That will not hold long, so I’ll end now before they can give me an option I will not like.

    If I am strong enough I’ll bring a picture of road kill home some day and pin it to my bulletin board. See if that will shut them up. What am I thinking nothing will.

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