[FUEL] Slay the Inner Critic Gremlin – Your most important first step…

By Dawn Shuler

During my Just Write! Virtual Workshops, I have a few rules for my participants:

  • No email, phone, or social media
  • Commit to doing it badly
  • Don’t edit, unless that’s the specific project for the workshop
  • Take projects in chunks instead of trying to look at entire project
  • Follow your energy

Why do I have rules? Because without them, it’s very easy to be paralyzed by the creative process. Here are things I hear from my clients and people in my programs all the time:

“I’m so overhwhelmed… I don’t know where to start!”

“I feel scattered. I have notes on bits of paper everywhere.”

“What if it’s not good enough?”

The rules for my workshop work for any project, and, honestly, that’s why they’re there. Because, otherwise, you would get so caught up in the overwhelm, stress, and anxiety that you wouldn’t make any progress.

I ran into this myself just this week. I’m working on the copy for my newest rebrand and reinvention, and when I first started on the new website home page, I struggled like mad.

“Will people understand what I’m offering?” “It has to be perfect.” “I have to do it right.” “My copy must be inspiring and authentic.” “Do I have the right call to action?”

Ack! I got tired of hearing myself!

I recognized that these were the words of my inner critic gremlin, the beast who wants status quo. He doesn’t want me to stretch and do new things and take risks. That’s much too scary for him, and he might lose his cushy job of proclaiming doom and gloom.

I did what I tell my clients to do…

  • I kept breaking the project down into pieces – and in different ways. First, I made a website page layout map with all the pages I wanted on the website, what layout (single column, two column, etc.), and any notes about the copy. Then, I created a table to see what pages were on my existing WritingFromYourSoul.com site so that I can determine what pages would stay on the original website and what pages might move to the new website.
  • I jotted down notes and to-do’s in another document, like needing new social media icons, a favicon, a banner for emails, a visual text editor for WordPress, and so on. I tried not to let ideas, concerns, and to-do’s muck up the creative process, while at the same time not losing what could be a valuable note or future action item.
  • I just kept on writing the copy. There were times it didn’t make sense or one paragraph didn’t flow into the other. I just wrote what came to me and what I knew to be true. I moved paragraphs around. I deleted some. I made notes to myself to add more copy – later.
  • I got as far as I could (and far from done or perfect!) and just stopped. No, it’s not done, AND I’ve done enough for now. I sent it off to my website designer, and I’ll revisit it in a few days.

Your takeaways from this article:

  1. Starting is harder than finishing (in most cases), so just starting is a win.
  2. We want to bypass first drafts and go straight to the final draft. Bad move as that sucks the creativity and energy out of you.
  3. Embrace the draft and the first attempt and commit to doing it badly.

May we save ourselves from our inner critic gremlins!

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