The Inner Critic: Bless Its Little Heart


How many of us hear The Voice no matter how much we have accomplished?  I heard two published authors speak last week, who stated that they STILL HEAR THE VOICE: “Nobody will read that”; ”This isn’t very good”; “Perhaps you’re not a real writer”; “You’re an imposter.” The voice hitchhikes within our tender heart.  Why does it remain resilient and loud, never impressed by our skill, unsatisfied with what we achieve?

I came across a twitter thread by Tracy the Clayton, and it stopped me cold. She had a life-changing epiphany and I immediately saw how it applied to us in our craft and in other places of our lives. To paraphrase this brilliant and raw post: she re-listened to that voice. She realized:

it was not trying to destroy or belittle her; it had only been trying to protect her.

This voice was clumsy in its efforts, a well-meaning child who merely loves us and is ungainly as it wrings its hands. It shields us from danger which might not even be there. Tracy faced it like it was a friend in the other chair. She thanked it and told it not to worry; ’I’ll take it from here.’ Tracy’s words helped me to dismantle the voice, transforming it from a hostile entity designed to shame, into a well-meaning friend who anxiously fusses over us, wants us to wear a coat, a ‘call me when you get there’ type of friend.  I see a difference in my writing day as I practice re-framing the voice. Daily, I work to reduce the status of this authority figure. Imagine if we could pat it on the head and say, ‘it isn’t evolved enough to understand me, bless its precious heart.”

The world needs to hear from you. We have enough things in our lives which get in the way; we don’t need the voice as well. Nod and thank it for its service. Step around it and continue with your very important work. I present you with the thread that started it all (given with Tracy’s permission.) May you find what you need in her wise words.

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Sheri Hoffmann is a writer, public speaker, and creator of the “Contented Yes” workshop series. Sheri has presented her seminars to audiences in the East Bay and North Bay areas. In addition to performing in the 2015 production of Listen To Your Mother San Francisco, she also writes about the ridiculous, the mundane and a variety of social issues. She is a fierce advocate for writers’ voices and very protective of their writing time. She can be reached at to consult with you or speak to your group about boundaries, whether you’re a writer and/or someone who is relentlessly tapped for their time and skills.