When I was writing my first novel I would have killed for a Fairy Godmother to pop into my life and reassure me that I was on the right track. Every week I took a quick inventory of how many pages I had written, but even though the page count was mounting, my confidence levels seemed to be dropping.
Before I became a writing coach I didn’t even know that writing coaches existed. However, I did know about editors. I had been running a writing group for a little over five years and had heard various stories—some good, some horrible—about the editing experience. Some of the writers I talked to loved their editor and couldn’t imagine getting to a final draft without them. Others had been burned and vowed never to go back. But no matter what kind of experience they had, one thing was very clear:
Do you remember last November? Do you miss that heady rush of racing through thousands of words each day, and the thrill of seeing the page count rise as you chased down the dream? Did you fall in love with your main character? Were you filled with triumph—or crestfallen—around Thanksgiving when it became glaringly apparent that you only had a few days left to win the challenge?
If you’re a writer then you already know I’m talking about NaNoWriMo. And if you completed the challenge then I’m willing to bet that you have that sloppy first draft manuscript shoved away in a drawer somewhere. You said you were going to get to it, clean it up and edit it and really make something out of it because you know it has promise…but somehow the days slipped away and now here we are at the end of March and you still haven’t touched it.
I met a woman in my first writing program who told me about her 40th birthday. She said it was the best and worst birthday she ever had. She was so happy when she turned 30, she remembered. She had a big party on the beach and all her friends came. But ten years later she found herself sobbing all alone in her bedroom the night before she turned 40.
Every writer has the voice of their inner critic somewhere inside their head. It might be a judgmental parent, or a toxic friend, or even someone from a long-ago writing group who made one hurtful comment about your story that stuck with you forever.
We all know the inner critic when that voice shows up.