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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Pass the Critic

Susan, a student in my Entering the Flow class this summer, mentioned a great exercise she’d done in Rebecca Kanner’s single-session Loft class, Silencing the Inner Critic. I thought the exercise sounded like a brilliant way to see the Saboteur from a different perspective and asked Rebecca to write a guest post about it. Here is her gracious reply.

Pass Your Critic to the Person on Your Right: Guest Post by Loft Teaching Artist Rebecca Kanner

If you’ve spent any amount of time staring at a blank piece of paper, hiding or destroying your writing, or cringing at even the thought of writing, you know your inner critic is your own worst enemy. Could your inner critic also be someone else’s worst enemy?

In my Silencing the Inner Critic course, I have each writer pass her critic’s list of demands to the person on her right. “But don’t get too excited,” I say. “A new list of demands is coming to you from the person on your left.”

After the demands are identified, listed and passed, everyone gets five minutes to “freewrite.” But of course, there’s no freedom when you have to try to live up to someone else’s critic. There’s nothing like watching someone’s expression as they look at your critic’s list of demands, knowing they have to live with them as they write for the next five minutes. Imagine how much more horrified they would be if they were told they had to live with these demands for the rest of their lives.

Afterwards we discuss the critics we encountered. We gain a new understanding of other writers’ struggles and our own. We realize we are not alone with the crazy critic. When we can see how outrageous the demands made by someone else’s inner critic are and how impossible it would be to write within those constraints, we can see through our own inner critic.

Seeing the damage our inner critic has inflicted motivates us to put forth the necessary work to exorcise him. It’s easy to tell yourself you can limp along with him on your back a little while longer, but when you see someone else limping under his unwieldy weight, you realize how much he’s held you back from realizing your true potential.

The good news is no one has to live with your inner critic’s demands—not even you!

The first step is to identify your inner critic. Who is he, and why does he demand perfection? Do you subconsciously believe that he saves you from being vulnerable or making a fool of yourself? What are you really afraid of?

Your Chance to Give It Away

If you’d like the opportunity to silence your inner critic (aka Saboteur), Rebecca’s Silencing the Inner Critic class on October 1 from 1 to 4 pm will give you allies and encouragement as you answer these questions, find ways to exorcise the negative voices from your head and learn the wisdom of revising later in the writing process. Visit the Loft’s website or call 612-379-8999 to register.


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2 Comments on “Pass the Critic”

  1. Rebecca Kanner February 21, 2020 at 7:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on Rebecca Kanner and commented:
    I’m teaching Quiet the Inner Critic Saturday March 14th from 9 a.m. to noon. https://loft.org/classes/quiet-inner-critic


    • rosannebane April 18, 2020 at 5:08 pm #

      I’m sorry I didn’t see this sooner — I would have mentioned your class on my Facebook page. I was still in Florida when you posted, planning our driving route home, trying to see what states had fewer cases of COVID. It’s good to be home. How did the class go?


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