It’s almost done, the course Teaching Creative Writing. We have just a couple more months to go before graduation. Today we had a masterclass from a colleague writer/teacher focussing on the ‘guerilla between the writer and the creative writing teacher’.

We started the day with an extraordinary writing exercise. One that kinda freaked us out, like a walk in the Paris catacombs can freak you out.

You all know about the inner critic, that nagging voice in the back of your heads that persists in telling you that you suck, major league. Like most of us, I have learned to silence that voice, trick it into believing that I am not interested in its musings. But silenced or not, it is always there, lurking in the darker crevices of my mind, ready to pop up when it senses even the slightest crack in my defence wall. Ready to pull the rug from under my writer’s chair. Today our colleague asked us to listen to that voice, let it speak unhindered, and write down what it said. No censorship allowed. We looked at each other, some with fear in their eyes, others with quiet resignation.

I sat down and wrote.

Then something unexpected happened: the longer I listened and the more I wrote down what it said, the more hilarious the voice became. I had never recognized my inner critic to be such a pompous fool, such a comedian, such an exaggerator. I had never realized that my inner critic is just as much the fictionist as I am.

It was an amazingly fruitful and freeing exercise. A revelation. By letting my inner critic honk away it turned into a cackling goose. I can choose to listen to it and have a good laugh, I can tell it to dip its pea brain into the waters and eat duck weed. It has lost its power.