Type, type, type, type, type. Backspace, backspace, backspace. Type. Delete. Ty…surf the web for “research.” Scroll through Nordstrom’s Half Yearly Sale. Text to accountability partner, “Oops, didn’t have a chance to write my blog this week.”
The previous scenario may or may not be based on true events. But if you’re an entrepreneur who struggles to keep up with the content your business demands, it may ring true.
I know. Because I used to struggle to keep up with the content my business demands. And I am a content strategist whose been working with words my entire career!
It happens. Sometimes when we write, Roger Ebert shows up and mucks everything up.
“Roger Ebert” is what I call my inner critic, named for the late, prolific movie critic. It’s that voice in your head dedicated to convincing you that everything you are writing is a steaming pile of sh*t. Your inner critic will tell you plainly that you’re about to embarrass yourself or that you can’t say that. It’s a shifty, narrow-minded, unhappy entity that entices you to backspace, delete and max out your credit cards at Nordstrom.
Don’t let it.
It’s just fear speaking. Putting yourself and your words out there takes courage. Uncovering and being true to the voice of your business requires bravery. Your inner critic is trying to protect you from being you. Not cool, inner critic. Not cool at all.
Unfortunately, you can’t wish away your inner critic, but you can find ways to peacefully co-exist with it.
- Lighten Up Don’t give your inner critic extra power by taking it too seriously. Just the term “inner critic” is harsh, so I gave mine a name. Now when it’s flaring up I say, “I hear ya, Roger, but it’s not your turn.” Find a way to be playful with it.
- Redirect My friend, herbalist and autoimmune specialist Lisa Akers, once suggested I send my inner critic “out for tea and then write like crazy while she’s was gone.” Others put theirs in “time out.” Another writes her inner critic’s complaints on a scrap of paper and promptly throws it away.
- Tell it Off It’s hard to beat the advice of author Elizabeth Gilbert who said she deals with her inner critic the same way she deals with real life critics, saying to them “very, very quietly, but very firmly, ‘If you don't like what I'm doing, go write your own f***king book.’"
- Consult Teddy Roosevelt I read Roosevelt's “Man in the Arena” excerpt from his “Citizenship In A Republic" speech* so often, I should hang it on my wall.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Inner critics are cold and timid souls. Take a deep breath. Remind your inner critic that you've got this and nudge him aside. Then create the great content that will propel your business forward.
*Interesting side note. Roosevelt gave this speech on April 23, 1910. That’s 4.23. Which is also a hint at some exciting updates coming to this space. Stay tuned.