Critical voice is that part of yourself that wants you to be perfect. Since perfection doesn’t exist, that voice will win any argument it starts.
The trick is not to argue with it.
It’s that person at the party that you can’t have a discussion with because they aren’t really listening, they’re just thinking ahead to their next rebuttal. But, but, but…
You can’t argue with those people (why are you trying?) and you can’t argue with your critical voice.
It knows all your secrets and it knows all your weak spots.
It knows mine.
I’m going through my own battles with critical voice right now. I recognized today that something I thought wasn’t even related was, in fact, just a sign that my inner critic had gotten the best of me.
When the critical voice is winning, it’s hiding from you. It doesn’t want you to realize it’s there, because you might fight back.
But you can’t attack it directly, with words, with reason. It’s not reasonable. And it will win.
You have to put it in a closet, or in the ground. You have to bury it, and ignore it, and pretend you don’t see its ghost out of the corner of your eye. It will hide in the shadows and it will claw at your brain. The moment you look at it and say I know you’re there, it will go into hiding again, to wait, to lurk, to sulk.
Face it and it will hide. Ignore it and it will lose.
Give it a voice, and you’re the one who loses.
It can feel like an unending effort to ignore something buried so deep inside you that you can never cut it out.
It’s worth it. Writing is never more fun than it is when you’re completely, unabashedly ignoring your inner critic.
I see critical voice as one facet of perfectionism. Perfectionism will destroy your soul. It will kill every creative thought you have. So guard against it. Fight tooth and nail to keep it out of the light and out of your head.
Here are some of my favorite links about critical voice for further reading. Some address critical voice directly. Some talk about things that are a sign that your critical voice is making trouble, even if you don’t recognize it as such.