Discussion questions: Is your internal critic a Sunday quarterback or a Monday-morning quarterback? Does he/she/it try to prevent you from writing at all (Sunday), or does he/she/it allow you to write because he/she/it enjoys making you tear yourself down afterwards (Monday)?
If you could change your internal critic’s workday from Sunday to Monday or vice versa, would you?
A few nights ago a writer friend and I had the following conversation over text:
Him: “Sat down to work on a new story last night and felt suddenly very embarrassed. Tried to shake it but only hit about 500 words before I retreated to bed feeling like shit. Does that ever happen to you?”
Me: “Not often. Usually I’m very happy with what I’m writing while I write it. The next day, when I read it, I’m totally humiliated and crushed, and that’s when I retreat to bed. Different routes, same destination. But you’re writing, at least. That’s good to hear. Gonna try again tonight?”
Him: “Yeah, I thought about some fixes this afternoon so I’ll try it again tonight.”
The next morning, I checked in:
Me: “Did you try to write last night? Any better?”
Him: “I got too high and watched [a movie] instead.”
Sunday vs. Monday-Morning Quarterbacks
I’ve written before about how my internal critic — my Monday-morning quarterback — tries to trip me up, but rarely when I’m actually writing. When I’m writing, my critic takes a casual stroll around town, pushing kids off bikes, stealing nuts from squirrels, harassing the homeless. He gives me the space to produce words and pages — to build my confidence and get happy with myself as a writer — just so that he can come back when I’m most vulnerable and kick me square in the… everything.
My friend has a Sunday quarterback for an internal critic. When he settles in to write, his critic pulls up a chair and nestles in behind him. While he writes, his critic taps him on the shoulder and says, “Hi! This shit you’re writing is terrible. Honestly? I don’t see the point in continuing. Do you? No, right? OK, so shut the computer off — that’s a good boy — and let’s go watch that new TV show.”
Which Internal Critic QB Haunts You?
Is your internal critic a Sunday quarterback or a Monday-morning quarterback? Does he/she/it try to prevent you from writing at all (Sunday), or does he/she/it allow you to write because he/she/it enjoys making you tear yourself down afterwards (Monday)?
If you could change your internal critic’s schedule from Sunday to Monday or vice versa, would you?
Let’s huddle up in the comments.
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WriteByNight writing coach and co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.