Replacing the Inner Critic

Writers in all genres battle with their “inner critic.” Some writers spend so much time lamenting and discussing their inner critic they have little time left to write. Many writers also talk about getting rid of their inner critic, but fail to explore possible replacements.

For myself, the opposite of the dastardly “inner critic” is the nurturing “inner editor.” In other words, creating my own version of the ideal editor. Two drawings by master artist/cartoonist, Saul Steinberg, offer a visualization of both sides of this writers’ coin.

Inner Critic

* Doubting

* Undermining

* Snide

* No way to please

* Second guessing your every word and move


Inner Editor

* Encouraging voice as he/she also challenges

* Doesn’t tell you what to write, but asks vital questions that help YOU discover what to do

* A supportive and curious energy moving toward a richer creation

* Eager to read and examine your efforts

* Honest when it comes time to say “I believe you can do a better job.”

* Literary cheerleader who is not impressed by your ego’s need to be loved


If you have the power to generate an “inner critic” you also have the power to generate your ideal “inner editor.”


THE CATALOGUE by Saul Steinberg. World Publishing, 1962.

THE COMPLETE CARTOONS OF THE NEW YORKER edited by Robert Mankoff. Black Dog & Leventhal, 2004.