Inner critic. What is the inner critic anyway?
Every writer knows that the most difficult thing about writing (after, say, actually applying butt to seat in front of his or her computer), is staring at that blank screen with its accusatory blinking cursor. What comes next? I dunno. For you it might be different than it is for me, the totally undisciplined, unscheduled writer, but here are the main problems most of us face when we sit down to write, and they all occur in our heads:
1. Fear. What to say? How to say it? What will other people think?
The easiest way I have found to conquer this, our main problem, is to go through rather than around it.
How? Exercise that writing muscle by freewriting. Try it the old school way, by putting pen to paper and just writing whatever comes into your head for ten minutes. Anything. Could all be junk, but get it out there without thinking about it. Don’t think at all. Just write, and keep that pen moving, for ten whole minutes. No judgment. Judgment at this stage of the game is deadly. Your inner critic is just itching to take over and gum up the works, saying things like, “You call yourself a writer? You couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag!” (That’s a terrible thing to say, and it’s really old, besides. Maybe breathing in a paper bag is a good idea at this point.)
2. Fear. For the writer of memoir, there are two unique fears. A: What will my family think (say), and B: How do I avoid getting sued by the real people I’m writing about?
What to do? The first problem may be tackled head-on by asking for permission (and getting it in writing), and showing family members what you wrote before publishing anything. Not sure I like that solution, but there it is. The second is a little more complicated. One solution to the problem of getting sued when you are writing memoir is to blend one or two characters together to make a composite. To me, this seems like stretching the truth too far. My best practice is to consult a good lawyer who is familiar with the intricacies of the law as it pertains to authors. One book I really like is Helen Sedwick’s, Self-Publlisher’s Legal Handbook.
3. Fear. Did I mention fear? Join a writer’s club and hang out with some kindred souls for a while. You’ll learn you are not alone after all, and you’ll get wonderful support.