Silencing the Inner Critic: How to Overcome Self-Doubt and Its Attendant Writer’s Block

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Every writer, from seasoned professionals to aspiring novices, has encountered the dreaded inner critic. That relentless voice that whispers doubts, criticises every sentence and questions your abilities can be a major source of writer’s block, as discussed in our comprehensive guide on the topic Writer’s Block: What It Is and How to Overcome the Blank Page Struggle. In fact, for some writers, this inner critic can manifest as full-blown imposter syndrome, a psychological pattern where you doubt your accomplishments and fear being exposed as a “fraud.” 

But the good news is that you don’t have to let your inner critic control your writing. Understanding its origins can help you silence the negative voice and tap into your full creative potential.

Understanding Your Inner Critic

The inner critic is that nagging voice in your head that constantly judges and evaluates your work. It may sound something like this:

  • “This is terrible. You’re a fraud.”
  • “No one will ever want to read this.”
  • “You’ll never be as good as (insert your favorite author here).”

This internal naysayer can stem from various sources, including:

  • Fear of Failure: We often fear putting ourselves out there and risking rejection or criticism.
  • Perfectionism: Striving for perfection can lead to an overly critical mindset that focuses on flaws rather than strengths.
  • Negative Past Experiences: Past criticisms or rejections can leave lasting scars that fuel self-doubt.
  • Comparison to Others: Comparing ourselves to more successful writers can make us feel inadequate and discouraged.

Identifying Your Inner Critic’s Voice

silencing the voice of your inner critic and preventing writer's block

The first step to overcoming your inner critic is to recognise its voice and patterns. What are the specific things it says to you? When does it show up e.g., during the brainstorming phase, while drafting, or after finishing a piece? By becoming aware of its triggers and tactics, you can start to challenge its authority.

Related: The Writing Process

Strategies for Silencing the Inner Critic

  1. Name It: Give your inner critic a name (e.g., the Nagging Nathan, the Doubtful David). This can help you separate yourself from your negative voice and view it as a separate entity.
  2. Challenge Its Assumptions: When your inner critic pipes up, ask yourself if its claims are based on facts or simply irrational fears. Are you really a terrible writer, or is your inner critic exaggerating?
  3. Reframe Negative Thoughts: Replace self-deprecating thoughts with positive affirmations. For example, instead of “I’m not good enough,” try “I am a capable writer with valuable insights to share.”
  4. Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and understanding. Remember everyone makes mistakes, and setbacks are a natural part of the writing process.
  5. Focus on Progress, Not Perfection: Shift your focus from trying to be perfect to making progress. Celebrate your small wins and acknowledge the effort you’re putting in.
  6. Seek Feedback from Trusted Sources: Share your work with people who will offer constructive criticism and encouragement. Their positive feedback can help counterbalance your inner critic’s negativity.
  7. Set Realistic Expectations: Remember that writing is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Don’t expect to be a literary genius overnight. Focus on continuous improvement and learning from your mistakes.


Every writer has an inner critic, but how you respond to it is what will determine if it will hold you back. So, recognise the negative voice of your inner critic, silence it, and let your authentic voice shine through in your writing. 

If you’re looking for more guidance on overcoming writer’s block, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide Writer’s Block: What It Is and How to Overcome the Blank Page Struggle. It’s packed with resources to help you navigate writing challenges and unleash your creativity.


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