Writers Judging (Who, Me? Yes, You. And Me, Too)
I’m reading a book about judgment. Yes, judgment. It’s called Judgment Detox by Gabrielle Bernstein. I love this topic because I am a very judgy person and I don’t often see it addressed. Yet, it is important–so important, especially for anyone trying to do anything creative. Like writing.
The first self-help book I ever read was a mass market paperback that I can’t remember the name of. I’m pretty sure i was embarrassed to buy it (this was in pre-Amazon days, before you could order books online). Because in those days, I knew nobody who read self-help, or spirituality, or books on productivity and brain stuff. (There weren’t many books on brain stuff, so much of the science is so new.) The only thing I remember about the book is that it instructed readers not to judge.
And I was outraged. Not judge! Harumph! Of course we judge. We have to. We have to judge little things, all day, every day–like what should I eat for breakfast, does the outfit look good on me, and what’s the fastest way to drive to work? All judgements, all needed.
Well, yes. But those aren’t the types of judgments that long-ago self-help author and Bernstein are talking about. These judgments–the ones we’re talking about today–are the kinds that separate us from other people, the world, and ourselves. That last bit if crucial for creativity, because if we are separated from ourself, how can we create?
And yet that is exactly what judgment does. Because when we judge, we’re judging something that makes us uncomfortable about ourselves. When we judge, we ultimately feel ashamed and guilty. And cliche of the tortured artist aside, those are not good emotional states from which to write.
Some ways we writers judge
Other people. We judge other writers. How did that 21-year-old get a mega-publishing deal? She can’t know anything at that age! Or, oh no, that writer I got my MFA with has published five novels to my one. And let’s be honest–they all suck. Or, her writing is not nearly as good as mine. On and on and on the variations go.
The world. Publishing in particular. It’s all rigged. It’s all hyped. Traditional publishing takes forever. You can’t get past the gate-keepers. They don’t pay any royalties. They don’t do any marketing. They only want to publish big names! On and on we go.
Ourselves. I can’t write. Nobody is going to want to read this. This is dreck! My family is going to hate me when my memoir comes out. Oh, I can’t believe how awful this is! People will laugh at me! Oh no, oh no oh no.
Just reading all that crap makes you feel sort of gloomy and heavy, doesn’t it? And yet we feed ourselves a constant stream of it all day every day. (At least I do. If you don’t, please leave me a comment and tell how you got to this enlightened state.) And I do know for a fact that an incessant inner judgy voice is not conducive to getting words on the page. At all. So what’s a writer to do?
Dealing with Judgment
The thing with judgment is that it is easy to fall into the trap of judging yourself because you are judging. Sigh. So the trick is to become aware of it without judging. Just become aware of it. Let it rise up. Say, oh hello judgement and let it go. Sort of like when thoughts come up as you meditate. Do not do battle with it. Do not engage it. This process get easier over time–both the recognizing of it and the releasing of it.
You can also try techniques such as:
Journaling–write your angst out on the page.
EFT–tap away the judginess.
Meditation–everyone’s favorite. Hahahaha. But I have noticed that over time, a consistent meditation practice reduces my judgy ways.
Exercise–go for a walk and get your ya-yas out!
Most of all, be kind to yourself–don’t judge yourself if you sit down for a writing session and start telling yourself how awful your work is. Changing ingrained habits like this takes time.
Do you have a favorite technique for dealing with judgment? Leave a comment–or come join the Facebook group and discuss there.
(Note: the link to the book is an affiliate link.)