The Inner Critic: Worse or Better than a Real Critic?

Recently I was required to sign a document that states that I understand that my current job is supposed to be my main means of employment. I’m not sure if this is a normal practice for contract positions, but it struck a nerve with me.

It indicated that if I become successful in selling my work, that I should resign from the job as the position would no longer be my number one priority. Okay, I was a bit perturbed that the company thinks their employees should see this job as their number 1 priority…. but what really pissed me off was my boss’s reaction to my skepticism.

I’m sure that the new document is mostly geared toward the much higher upper management, meant to keep them from getting distracted by other, higher paying jobs or working for competing contractors. But instead of explaining the new document in this way, my boss told me that I shouldn’t worry, because my writing wasn’t “real” employment, so they probably wouldn’t even consider that as a competing job.

I’m sure she meant it to be placating. To ease my worry that the new document would not allow me to continue writing.

Instead, I was offended that she didn’t consider writing to be “real” employment. Okay, sure, I’m not making a ton (or any) money with my books yet, but if I keep working at it, then I will. I guess her remark hit a sore spot. Sometimes I do wonder if my writing is good enough to be considered real work. I’ve been really lucky to be surrounded by  (mostly) supportive friends and family. The implication that my writing wouldn’t be considered as real employment acted as a prod. I had to prove her opinion about my writing wrong.

I went from writing 5-8 pages a day to 10 pages in the morning, worked on possible magazine articles in the afternoon and wrote a piece for a website in the evening. I worked like that for about two weeks, fueled by the flames of my annoyance, before my drive and creativity trickled back down to 5-8 pages a day again. I once again began to question my own writing and doubted it’s quality, spending more time avoiding the blinking cursor than actually getting down to writing.

It seems that when others provide encouragement, I’m much more likely to be my own undoing, providing a running commentary of negative comments that keep me from getting any real writing accomplished. But when faced with another person’s actual opinion that my writing isn’t real, I’m driven to prove them wrong. I end up cranking out a lot more work when trying to show others that I’m a real writer. Hmm. Just food for thought I guess.


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