Write from the Journal: Paging the Critic Write from the Journal: Paging the Critic | Shades of Crimson

Write from the Journal: Paging the Critic

by Davina on July 11, 2010

A freestyle writing exercise

I sat down to do some freestyle writing in my journal a week ago. It was a new journal and I was anxious to break it in. You know; like when you just have to use the toothpaste from the new tube, or the shampoo from the new bottle. I still had some empty pages in my older journal, but I was done with that book. It had old energy.

So, I started writing and as often happens, made the mistake of stopping to re-read what I’d written. That’s when the critic jumped into the session. So, I continued writing about that and by allowing it to become a part of the process I ended up learning something. I was so giddy with how things unfolded, I decided to take photographs of the journal and post it as a blog post.

In keeping with the whole Shades of Crimson theme of rendering the write impact, I thought this was a perfectly fun idea. In case you’re not able to read the journal pages, I’ve transcribed them for you — typos and everything — ugh!

Three pages from my journal

Couldn’t find the journal I wanted, so I ended up with this art pad. I prefer it because the paper is thicker and it’s spiral bound. I bought two.

People talk too much and they drive and walk in a hurry. Not only do they talk too much, but they talk too loud and rarely do they appear to be listening and focusing on the words you say. It’s like they’re off somewhere else, distracted.

Or, they’re waiting for their chance to say what’s on their mind. It’s like they’re listening, but concentrating on holding their thought so they don’t lose it.

I feel the rush and notice my speech speeds up so I can get all my thoughts out before they burst. So we have fast cars, fast food and now, fast conversation.

And here I am, doing it to my writing. I was enjoying the process, but as soon as I stopped to review it the critic had to put in its two cents.

It wants to make something of the writing now. It’s judging. Now I’m distracted from the flow. Irritated. Feel like stopping.

Notice as soon as the outcome becomes important, the process is interrupted. Like a commercial during a good movie. The only difference being a movie has already been set in place and I know it will resume and I can listen again.

In this case, my story is emerging as I write. Okay, so does that possibly mean that my critic could be written into the story? “Just a word from our sponsor.” Hmm.

The flow just picked up as I moved forward, talking about the critic. Makes me suddenly see a parallel here with how I feel when I know someone is not fully listening to me.

I make an effort to be seen. Lock eye contact — urgent — and I hasten the pace to say my piece. Is that what the critic is doing? It just wants to put in its two cents — its perspective?

Guess I could listen. I don’t have to believe it. No need to take it seriously. If something does ring true I’ll take note and decide if it’s worthy of addressing.

What’s cool here is that by noticing the critic and bringing it into the story, I have learned something. It just added a whole new perspective to the flow of writing — a whole new page in my journal, too! Not that we’re counting! :-)

The outcome became less important as I engaged everything in the process. Together we were stronger. Two heads are better than one when they’re on the same page.

This is a good place to stop.

After the journal

She runs to take photographs for the blog post, all the while noticing something and feeling quite triumphant:

“Cool! Suddenly I’m not as afraid of the critic. In fact, I’m looking forward to our next meeting. I wonder what we’ll come up with.
PS. I can now review this with a smile.”

What I enjoyed most about this was how continuing on, despite the interruption of the critic, something really neat came out of it. And actually, when you think about it, I invited the critic in when I stopped; when I opened my mind to it.

Ever stop to think that the critic is our faithful servant? When we’re busy writing and forging forward, inspired and on a mission, the critic is nowhere to be found. Only when we interrupt our flow do we make ourselves vulnerable to it. And the way I see it; in this case it was very helpful. I’ve decided to name my critic, Chip — cause he’s a chip off the old ‘writer’s block’.

When you’re not afraid to keep writing, time renders the words for you. It keeps the writing fresh and the path interesting and me… curious enough to see what’s next.

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