My Inner Critic is Killing Me

I have to admit that I am currently very frustrated with my writing and my inner critic seems to be winning. First of all, I am disappointed with yesterday’s post on this blog. I think the idea was good, but I felt all tongue-tied(keyboard-tied?) trying to write the thing and I’m afraid the whole post was uninspired. It could have been better.

Then, there is my current work-in-progress, the Christmas short story I have mentioned here before. To put it bluntly, I think it’s total crap and so does my inner critic. My original idea was funny, but I haven’t been able to put it together to form a coherent story. I keep editing and editing the story and feel like I keep moving further and further away from being finished. I don’t think I’m going to finish this one before Christmas and may just junk it and start on the story for Shimmer Magazine. I feel like I’m regressing as a writer.

With the short story, I’m not using an outline as usual. I think I may have to rethink this strategy. I like not working with an outline, because it’s exciting to discover the story as I go. However, I think this is contributing to the lack of a cohesive story. For my next project, I think I’m going to actually do some pre-writing planning, flesh out some characters, and figure out what I would like to happen in the story before I begin to write. A change can’t hurt, right?

Well, just for the heck of it, here are the first few paragraphs of the story I was working on, a story from the perspective of the Head Elf at the North Pole:

We Are Santa’s Elves

It’s not always Christmas at the North Pole. Obvious, I know. People seem to think it’s candy canes, hot cocoa, and songs about snow all the time. We work hard too, though, and sometimes things are rough,like the time Santa barged into my office and told me we had to let some of the elves go. Worst day of my life.

The problem was, people would rather buy their toys from Wal Mart or order them online than take the time to write a letter to Santa, not knowing if they were truly naughty or nice. We simply no longer needed so many workers.

It’s not like I didn’t try to improve our lot here in the North Pole. It was my idea to try Google adWords, to get people to consider us when they were searching the web for toys. Also, I figured it was time to pull back on the Santa’s Helpers program. When we first launched the program, it was important to get “Santa” out in the malls, to meet the kids and get their Christmas wishes directly. The Santa’s Helpers program, though clever at the time, was clearly no longer effective. And let’s be honest, Santa is an intimidating guy, more so when he is represented by a washed up alcoholic with a fake beard. Some screaming toddler peeing on some poor guy making minimum wage wasn’t helping anybody. We don’t need that type of publicity.

9 thoughts on “My Inner Critic is Killing Me

  1. It’s hard to get a feel for the story when it is pretty much back story. The elf does sound like an interesting character, though. Where does the plot go from here?

    Unrelated, if they are using google to advertise their internet existence so that people come to their site, they would be using AdWords. AdSense is for the publishers that put other people’s ads on their sites.

  2. Mike, I will make that edit. I haven’t dealt with advertising on this blog, so I didn’t know that.

    The whole story would be set in the past, as the Elf is remembering what happened. From here, I set up some conflict with one of his rivals who want the head elf job. Oh, and Scott Baio is involved.

  3. I thought that seemed like a good opening. I like the Elf, he comes across as very dry and a little weary, exactly the opposite of what we expect of Elves.

    I’ve tried both outlining and working without a net and while I enjoy discovering what the story is about as I write it, I find that having some idea of where I’m going makes the writing much easier to get out. I try to do something in between for most of the stories I write, having a good idea of major events in the story, but not how they happen or how the characters get where they need to be, I get the best of both worlds that way.

    Everybody goes through I love it – I hate it, phases, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Work on something else, put it out of your mind for some time and then come back to it fresh and ready to go.

  4. “To put it bluntly, I think it’s total crap and so does my inner critic.”

    Yeah, we all write crap. I can’t tell you the number of great ideas I’ve had that, when put down on paper, end up making for a terrible story. Writing the occasional piece of crap is an occupational hazard, it happens to everyone. It doesn’t, however, mean that you’re regressing as a writer.

    My advice: If you think there’s some chance of salvaging the story, work at it. If you’re 100% convinced that it’s crap – that it worked better as an idea than as an actual story – let it die. Learning to let things die was one of the things that took me a long time to learn – I was always attempting to rework things that just had nothing going for them.

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