Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

A Visit from Arvilla


My inner critic is named Arvilla.  She has brassy red hair, wears stiletto heels, and has a voice like fingernails on a chalkboard.  She paid me a visit this weekend.

It all began by my watching the first Hunger Games movie on DVD. I have never read the book or seen the movie when it first came out.   The next thing I know Arvilla is there and whispering to me:   “If the book is half as good as the movie, then you are doomed as a writer.  Suzanne Collins is brilliant.   You are not.”

Then she pointed out that the novel I am currently writing  takes place in a dystopian world too, and people are going to think I am just jumping aboard the coat tails of that theme.

Then Arvilla got really low and dirty:  she told me to give up and ditch the whole project.  

When she was done, she picked up her alligator handbag, blew me a kiss, and left me as a quivering pile of self-loathing goo.

The next day, I managed to drag my sorry butt back to my computer, went online to one of my writing groups, and proceeded to whine.

And what happened then?  One of my online writing buddies slapped me out of my pity party.

First, she affirmed that indeed I had been visited by my Inner Critic and told me not to listen to her.   Then she reminded me of all the writers (Orwell, Rand, Bradbury, et al) who created dystopian backdrops for their stories.  Then she pointed out that the premise of my story was entirely different.

At that point, I pulled on my big-girl panties and decided not to ditch the project.  (Thanks again, Sara).

I want to share with you what I have taken away from this recent encounter:

  • Create a persona for your Inner Critic.  You can better deal with that opponent if you can visualize her/him/it.   I’ve even written stories about Arvilla for my own amusement and to minimize her influence.
  • Read other authors and remind yourself that there are no original ideas.  You are simply reinterpreting those archetypal stories that are a part of our collective unconscious.  (Yeah, I have read a lot of Jung and Campbell).   Knowing that you don’t have to come up with a new idea takes the pressure off.
  • Don’t fight your battles with your Inner Critic all by yourself.  Connect with other writers. Join a writing group.  Join several writing groups, real life or virtual.  Learn from experiences of other writers.  They have most likely gone through the same thing.
  • Be willing to pass along what you have learned to other writers.

Yeah, Arvilla, I’ve got your number, and I’m coming back with reinforcements.

ljgloyd (c) 2013.

5 thoughts on “A Visit from Arvilla

  1. I’m glad I could help!! 🙂

    I would also like to add something I’ve seen a lot of successful authors say recently: That there is nothing wrong with playing the market a bit and writing something people currently find popular–so long as you have a damn good story to tell in that department. It’s only when you are ONLY writing a story (about vampires, about whatever) because it’s currently popular that you are likely to run into a problem. 🙂

    • Thanks, Sara. Um, does “the Red” mean you have red hair? If so, I hope my making Arvilla with red hair is okay with you. I could make her brassy blond instead…… 🙂

  2. Careful with the brassy blond, Lori–I’m blond and at the moment on your side. 😉

    I’ll have to give my critic a persona. I think she likes my story ideas, but she keeps telling me how tired and old I am. Maybe vitamins would help (for both of us?) or maybe I should just do her in. I’m a writer–I could do that, right? Any suggestions?

  3. Wonderful! YES!!! I admire you for continuing to write. I am an admitted coward. Visual art is easier for me. No idea why. The critics are numberless and utterly heartless but their criticisms bounce right off me. Perhaps I’m a coward when it comes to writing because the Critic (capital “C”) resides inside of me. I should pluralize, truly, for my Critic’s name is Everyone. My critic lays me right out with “Who cares? Why would anyone care about THAT?” Stops. Me. Dead.

    If I’m on the beam when I hear it I remember what I was told years ago: Every one of us is special, but none of us is unique. It doesn’t matter what you say, a lot of people are going to relate and be damn glad you said it. You’re job is to find the words they couldn’t.

    This is a great post. I appreciated it. Thanks, Lori.


  4. This is a great post Lori. Like you I have a strong inner critic who has a seething tongue and is not easily silenced. Thank you for sharing.

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