Struggling With Your Inner Critic

The inner critic is always there for the writer. The negative voice tells lies to keep you safe. It’s your brain’s defense mechanism against danger.Anxiety acts as a guardian angel. Its intentions are pure, but we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

When it comes to life or death situations, your anxiety protects you. But in the trenches of day to day modern life, we rarely encounter a life or death situation that warrants such an extreme measure. Anxiety acts like a guardian, but it can cause us to not act.

Learning to reframe your anxiety is important, so it doesn’t get in the way of your writing.Because the inner critic isn’t objective, whenever you find yourself at conflict with it.

Try to imagine the good that could come out of your writing. Even if what you write today doesn’t turn into something you can use, it is an exercise toward good writing in the end. Think of yourself as an athlete who has to practice before he/she gets really good. Your inner narrator should keep you grounded without discouraging you from moving forward. Don’t silence your inner critic. Think of it as a way to go in the opposite direction of what it wants you to do.

Turn the negative self-talk into an empowering message. Every time you hear yourself thinking that you’re not good enough, that your negative traits are far too many, that it’s not worth it, that it’s not fair, you tell yourself that it’s not so.

After all, the inner critic is kind of dumb, far from objective, and even though its intentions are good, it won’t help you get to where you want to go.

Anxiety, negative self talk, self-doubt should act as triggers to turn them into something that empowers you.

Charles Bukowski almost didn’t become the writer he had always dreamt of being. He worked in a post-office until his fifties, even though he tried and often failed to earn enough from his writing so he could quit his job.

Abraham Lincoln failed time and time again. He lost his bid for State Legislature when he was 23 years old. Six years later, he lost his bid to become Speaker in the Illinois House of Representatives.

In 1848, at the age of 39, Lincoln failed to become Commissioner of the General Land Office in D.C. Ten years later, he failed to become a U.S. Senator.

Colonel Harland Sanders is another famous failure. It was not until he was 65 years old, with just $105 to his name, that he set out to sell his franchise. He was rejected by 1,009 restaurants before one agreed to his business model.

If we try, we might fail. If we give it our all, we might fail.

Sometimes I do believe the universe tests our commitment, and I often find that the people who try and fail, never, ever want to try again.

So, what’s the trick? Simple. The trick is to be. Follow your heart and intuition. There’s a dream hidden somewhere inside a drawer of your soul you rarely open.

Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda

This is one of those clever quotes that get passed around quite often.When it’s do or die, most people tend to do.

Sometimes we don’t have to step outside our comfort zone. Sometimes we don’t have to take massive action in order to reach a certain goal. And sometimes we just can’t do it, and the Nike approach to life is only going to frustrate us into giving up or having a mental breakdown.

Have you ever chosen not to do something because you were absolutely certain you’d fail? You were so sure you couldn’t, so you didn’t even try. It felt impossible, and the thing with impossible is that:

a. You can’t do it.

b. It’s only two letters too long.

Doing the impossible will often lead to failure. But if we aim to do the bit that’s possible, if we just give it a try, then we might surprise ourselves by becoming good enough to do what we previously thought of as impossible.

The obvious paradox is that you never know if something’s impossible or not unless you try.Our attitude always determines our altitude in life. When we think we can’t do something, there’s no reason to even try.

It’s better to try something than to give up without even attempting just because you believe that you must do it.

Edison’s famous invention of the light bulb stands testimony to just how powerful such a mindset is. The trick that allowed him to persevere until successful was that he re-framed his failures as, “finding ways that don’t work.”

You, like Edison, must try to do it before you can decide if it can or can’t be done.

Always try. At least once or twice. It’s far better than doing nothing because it can’t be done.

The ego is simply the story you tell yourself about who you are, who you wish you could be, and who you’d never want to become. That’s it. The people who make their dreams come true tell themselves a story that goes like this: they are who they are, regardless of failure, setbacks, or opposition.

They are not defined by external factors. They are fueled from within, by the very definition they have chosen for themselves, and set out to find the circumstances that allow them to make that definition even more potent by making their dream come true.

The people who fail in life, however, try, again and again, to get the validation they think they need to finally be able to call themselves “writer” or “painter” or “entrepreneur.”

As we’ve discussed previously, it doesn’t work like that. First, you must be. Then, you must try.The world changes its opinion of you the day after you do.

You will change your limiting beliefs by first understanding that you are the one writing your inner narrative. You are the storyteller, the main character, the villain, and just like in a dream, everyone you meet is a reflection of who you are or wish to become.

Rather than clinging to your limiting beliefs, giving in to your inner critic, you try to test the very fabric of your soul. Venturing into the center of your fears, you will often discover that what you were most afraid of was fear itself.

You will realize that feeling unattractive doesn’t necessarily mean you are so. If you consciously decide to go beyond what your brain tells you is the most you are capable of, you will soon begin to do the impossible: you will start writing the story you’ve always wanted to write.

We often prefer the discomfort of being less than our ideal selves because the opposite brings with it the discomfort of uncertainty.

It’s not the decision to change that counts, but actively trying to change. We cannot remake ourselves without pain, and we must go through the discomfort of building a new self.

When we direct our gaze towards the stars, and we realize that we are capable of reaching for them, we must do everything in our power to internalize and act upon this belief.

It means you’ll need to look for confirmation that you are the exact opposite of what your inner critic is telling you, and repetition is essential. You have to do it over and over again until you become emotionally aware of this new reality of who you are.

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays. Follow me here.

I’m Grateful to Starry Starry Kite for Publishing Three of my Ekphrastic Poems that Responded to Three Paintings by Irene Christensen. Here’s One:

I Feel Close to Nature Too

I feel close to nature too

earth moves in the hot sky

green leaves grow my hair

mountains erupt my skin

when you step on me I cry

I feel close to nature too

my eyes wash blue seashells 

my face erodes sand from the shore

ground has no home for living

suffocating in a polluted candy corn sky 

I feel close to nature too

writhing, dying in the heat

a red leaf dragon swallows

the trees growing in the night forest

I must preserve the charging planet beast

I feel close to nature too

About the Poet

Eileen P. Kennedy is the author of two collections of poetry: Banshees (Flutter Press, 2015), which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and won Second Prize in Poetry from the Wordwrite Book Awards, and Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021) which Literary Titan has described as “emotionally-charged poetry that explores life with observant poems that will appeal to anyone who loves inspired poetry.” It was a finalist for the International Book Awards in General Poetry. She lives in Amherst, MA with the ghost of Emily Dickinson. More at

About the Artist

Irene Christensen’s art is about painting as a magical act. Her images repeat and are transformed, as words and images in poems. She likes to maintain a sense of wonder in her art. That life is strange and quirky, and contradictory, that tragedy and comedy are not played out in separate theaters, but co-exist, side by side. More at

Check out the poems on Starry Starry Kite

Writers and Isolation

Writers write in isolation mostly. This can be both challenging and rewarding. Sometimes it’s in small groups or workshops, but mostly alone. Sometimes I wait until the last minute to write what I want? Why?

In the end, I try to listen to my inner voice that speaks my true thoughts that ultimately helps me cut through the nonsense that sometimes enters into my writing. Good writing comes from the true self.

Photo by furkanfdemir on

I use different methods to get in touch with my inner self. I meditate, move to a coffee shop or library, read a book of an author who is writing something similar to my project. Sometimes just sit quietly.

Join me in imagining and getting in touch with your inner self. Try writing from that one true voice.

If you’re writing in isolation, it’s probably because you love the craft, because you can’t not write. Sometimes this is in a group, or a library, or a coffee shop, but mostly it’s in isolation.

I’ll continue to blog on Thursdays. If you’d like me to make an announcement for an upcoming reading, publication or award, get in touch with me here.

Spring Renewal and the Writer

Around this time last Spring, I was looking at signs of renewal and planting herbs and vegetables at my New England home.

This renewal follows me into my writing study where I sit at a big desk. The steadiness of the land and muted tones of the spring exude a calmness. I am ready to sit down and write.

I spent this winter, and many past winters, in different parts of Central America: Costa Rica, Cuba, Nicaragua, Mexico and Panama. This is a type of infusion of new experiences, different language, cultures, and places. The sun is bright and the colors are bold. In Costa Rica, I have a big porch that faces the mountains and I write outside.

So this Spring I strive to combine both my worlds, the stimulation of the sights and colors of Central America, with the slow, steady unfurling of Spring in the Northeast. It’s good to add new experiences to the consistency of my writing process. How do you stimulate your writing process?

I will be writing on Thursdays and posting literary events on that day. Follow me here at WordPress.

Writing and Meditation

Many writers are also meditators. Some even write about the relationship between writing and mediation. I am a meditator and a writer. I meditate in the morning and write in the morning. I also practice yoga. To me, these are all intertwin

The U.S. alone has an estimated 36 million yoga practitioners. It has adapted to local socio-political and cultural norms world over so much so that it can hardly be called an Indian custom. Yoga originated in India. The system of yoga has physical, mental, and emotional dimensions in addition to spiritual underpinnings. But yoga is not a religion. It has no dogma. But the practice for me is essential to my writing and brings me to a place where I can write truth.

Meditation helps improve focus. Something essential for the good writer. I began meditating years ago with a meditation method popular at that time, Transcendental Meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi developed this mantric method of meditation in the 50’s in India, and it spread widely throughout the world. For me, it was a good place to learn the technique, but my meditation practice evolved when I combined meditation with yoga, especially Kundalini. Kundalini is a spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine, conceptualized as a coiled serpent. It didn’t matter which type of meditation I was using, as long as it focused my mind and enabled me to write from that place.

Meditation provides a safe space to be. Meditation slows the world down to make room for creative thought and exploration. It’s an ideal practice for the writer or artist.

Have you had experiences with writing and meditation?

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I will be blogging on Thursdays, with occasional literary announcements, but I’m taking a few Thursdays off. Follow me here on WordPress.

Using Your Inner Voice to Write

Writers write in isolation mostly. Sometimes it’s in small groups or workshops, but mostly alone. Sometimes I wait until the last minute to write what I want? Why?

In the end, I try to listen to my inner voice that speaks my true thoughts that ultimately helps me cut through the nonsense that sometimes enters into my writing. Good writing comes from the true self.

I am currently in Costa Rica, where I usually spend my winters. This is a Costa Rican flower that grows around where I live. I do the big push for my writing during this time. I’m currently working on a series of Ekphrastic Poems based on the work of Irene Christensen, a Norwegian artist, on Women and Nature.

I also read writers who I feel write from their inner selves. I’m currently reading Joy Harry’s “Catching the Light” about her inner process for developing poetry.

I use different methods to get in touch with my inner self. I meditate, move to a coffee shop or library, read a book of an author who is writing something similar to my project. Sometimes just sit quietly.

Join me in imagining and getting in touch with your inner self. Try writing from that one true voice.

I’ll continue to blog on Thursdays. If you’d like me to make an announcement for an upcoming reading, publication or award, get in touch with me here.

Using Creativity to Navigate the World

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

With all the problems in the world, many of us are involved, to survive, in self-preservation behaviors. Creative activity can be a part of self preservation.

Think of increased creative capacity as growth.We should take creative actions to improve our creative growth. If we write a poem in a new form we’ve never used before, that can read to creative growth, for instance.

People who are creative are happier, healthier, and less lonely. A published poem can lead to a reading, a painting to an exhibit, a song to a concert. All of these things put us, and our art, out into the world to see and be seen and to interact.

A creative ability is a skill to use our imagination to solve a problem. We may feel stuck with a problem, but if we read up on how other people have solved this, or ask a friend how they solved this, we are using creativity to problem-solve.

You don’t have to be an artist to exercise your creative ability. You can use this skill to fulfill dreams, problem solve, and improve communication skills.

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays. Follow me here on WordPress.

Writing In Uncertain Times

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We live in unprecedented times. Pandemics, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, winter storms, political unrest, economic uncertainty and war are just some of the things we deal with daily. So why write through it?

Writing is important. As writers, we bear witness to what is going on in the world and write it down. It helps to put things into perspective and forms the basis of history. When we put our thoughts down on the page, it helps to give voice for those who may not be able to put it into words. It’s a comfort when we can form our feelings into writing that other people may read.

And when we write fantasy or fiction, we are allowing ourselves and others to get lost in escape. This is important in life also, especially when people are going through such massive upheavals. You can offer people relief though your literature.

Writers are sensitive to the world around them. This takes sympathy and empathy. Writers are empathetic to the suffering of others and can sometimes put this empathy into words and thus relieve the suffering. As writers, we have the gift of being able to put our feelings into words. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” 

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays. Follow me here on WordPress.

I am grateful to Poetry Super Highway for Making Me Poet of the Week on Poetry Super Highway December 26-January 1, 2023. Take a look during that week:

I am grateful to have been chosen “Poet of the Week” on the Poetry Super Highway. Check it out on December 26-January 1, 2023 for my poem “A Paddle Into Childhood.”

Happy New Year to All. I’ll see you again in 2023.

Insecurity in Writing

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I’ve often heard the expression, “I’m not ready to write.” We all feel insecure when we’re not sure what “it” is.

Sometimes the material we’ve written comes from the imagination, memory, dreams, and who knows where. Sometimes it’s elusive and genre-bending. What on earth should we do with it in the bright light of day to “make it better”? To ensure it’s a “real piece”?

To nurture our creativity, we all need supportive spaces. We need to do our best, but not pressure for more and more. We should renew our inner resources to overcome obstacles and difficulties.

Especially in these difficult times with wars and pandemic, we need to remind ourselves of the beauty that exists. We need the support of our fellow artists.

I remember seeing on television a cello player performing amidst the rubble of bombed out buildings after an attack by the Russian army on his Ukrainian village. When interviewed, he said, “We’ll rebuild.” His message was one of hope through creativity. It’s an antidote for despair. What do you do to nature your creativity?

I’ll be blogging on Thursdays. Follow me on WordPress at