I’ve been stuck , unable to write “the last chapter” of my memoir for a while now. I’ve tried tricking my brain–well, my inner critic, to be more accurate by writing short pieces that have nothing to do with the book. Or blogging. Or setting a scheduled time to write that last chapter. Every scheme to escape the Iron Maiden clutches of the inner critic has failed.

My inner critic, just like everyone else’s, knows exactly what to tell me so I only hear reasons not to try to do things–especially writing: I’m a fraud. I’m lazy. This book will embarrass me if anyone ever reads it. It can’t be called non-fiction if a lot of it is imagined dialog. Nobody wants to read your crappy book–why are you bothering to write it?

I talked with my wonderful therapist about how trapped, how restrained I felt not being able to write. How I really did feel pinioned by the negativity, unable to move because I hurt too much.

She asked me what it might feel like IF I could escape, or even just pry open a tiny space in the Iron Maiden in order to breathe a bit more freely. What would it feel like to not hear the constant berating? Maybe I could do a collage to express that…

And so I did.

Unlike the writing, the collage burst into being–a complete image. I felt it in my body like a zipper ripping open at heart-level, my essence expanding into limitless space, into the universe of energy and matter and connections. I felt like I was suddenly weightless, free, flying, sailing. I could look back and see behind me the prison of the inner critic’s negativity, the words that held me back. But I no longer felt their stranglehold or their power. I felt a surge of sympathy and compassion for the me who is still struggling to be free.

Using collage to express my frustration with the inner critic was eye-opening. Creating the image and feeling in my body how it was to escape the criticism showed me I have a choice: I can choose freedom. Looking at the critic’s negative words on paper, I was freed from their power to restrain and confine me.

Let’s see if the act of making this collage has opened the door to writing that “last chapter?” Stay tuned!

“Our reaction to self-criticism is more important than the self-criticism itself. Paying attention to our reactions is very important because the only thing we have control over is how we react.”
― Yong Kang Chan

Leave a Reply