I think it’s fairly common for writers to be afflicted with two simultaneous yet contradictory delusions, the burning certainty that we’re unique geniuses, and the constant fear that we’re witless frauds who are speeding toward epic failure.
Above is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite speculative fiction authors. I’ve decided to pair it with my review of The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace with the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten because I feel that this quote really encapsulates how myself, and my peers, within speculative fiction (and I’m sure writers of many other genres) feel, and it is that particular fear that I feel Andrea Patten really wrote through in The Inner Critic Advantage.
Those of us creatives should be able to sympathize, so innately, with anyone dealing with a loud mouth, self-depraving internal dialogue. Us, as writers, who are so obsessed with spinning dramatic and justifying narratives on paper, can often times paint the bleakest internal narratives for ourselves–for our own personal stories. What I appreciate about Andrea Patten’s take on battling this inner meany is that it isn’t about necessarily ignoring that inner critic (as she calls it). It isn’t about pushing it aside and ignoring it, like a lot of other life-coach guides I’ve read seem to suggest. In fact, I saw little evidence that The Inner Critic Advantage supports a denial of self at all, which I appreciate. Because, if you think about it, in a weird way, to completely ignore, or deny that critical voice in the back of your head is just another form of beating on yourself. I mean to say, that the critic in your head really is a part of you, and to deny it doesn’t equate to self-acceptance, and frankly a great deal of us creative’s confidence issues come from self-denial. Sometimes we have such a strong sense that we, ourselves, are unacceptable. This sense of inadequacy has crashed and burned more than one ambitious project in many of my peers’ (and a few of my own) creative lives. I appreciate The Inner Critic Advantage in that it does not tell you to shove that little doubting voice away, or put yourself in time-out. It covers how you can embrace, accept, and use that little voice to help drive your creative endeavors, and expand your self-confidence.
Another positive of this book I’d say is that it is completely positive! At no point does it make your feel hopeless. And, I think most writers can attest to how helpful that is. As a demographic we are the most likely group to suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, or impostor syndrome. The last thing we need is to feel bad about ourselves and our situation. Some self-help type books will recite all the landmines that are awaiting you the minute you, metaphorically, step foot outside the front door in life and work. But, The Inner Critic Advantage is very careful, it would seem, to avoid the nay-saying and finger-wagging that sometimes accompanies other wellness books. It, impressively enough, manages to stay completely upbeat and positive, while also placing the responsibility for change and positive progress on the reader’s head. This truly turns something potentially crushing and intimidation into empowerment. The voice in your head telling you that you are a hack and impostor is no longer a 100-pound gorilla with a hammer over your head that you have no hope in ever discharging from your mind. It is, instead, a 100-pound gorilla with a hammer that can be gently prodded in the right direction to do your bidding. An ally in the creative process.
Overall, The Inner Critic Advantage is a good read. It is helpful. I recommend it to any creative type–especially my peers in speculative fiction. It is a very easy read, (meaning it is highly readable), with a casual, sometimes humorous, tone. And, more importantly, it is a quick read that isn’t bogged down with any confusing or seemingly irrelevant information. As a working writers, brevity in acquiring new tools is important. Self-help books can sometimes feel like work to read, and this book doesn’t feel like work. And, we all hate doing work we aren’t paid for. It is a tool not a new job. I like tools I can use immediately, and the pointers in this book can be used immediately.
The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace with the Noise in Your Head can be found on Amazon, and is free on Kindle Unlimited. Also, check out Andrea Patten’s website for more info on her work.