As writers, we’re all so familiar with the Muse, and the nemesis called the Critic. Jack Heffron, in his book The Writer’s Idea Book, introduced another nemesis – the Judge. Who is the Judge and what does he do to writers? Hefron attributes a number of the “dark” strategies we usually blame on the Critic to that aspect of ourselves that he calls the Judge.
The Judge instills guilt. It’s that voice from within that tells us how inconsiderate we are for sitting in front of our desks all morning when there are many chores to be done. The Judge is especially harsh on women Heffron says, because from the time they can walk, women are instilled with the concept of sacrifice, of ignoring their needs. Men also wrangle with the Judge, but not as much as women do.
The Judge does not spare any writer – published or not, it wields its power. Listen to fiction writer Gish Jen, who was interviewed by Publishers Weekly: “Even today, I think my family would be more relived than dismayed if I were to stop writing. I still struggle with the question, Is it selfish? It’s hard on the people around me, it’s hard on the children. Is it worth it? I was programmed to be selfless, and I go through periods where I wonder. “
I think this is one nemesis I can proudly say I hardly give into – and only because I am a transformational therapist. I’ve learned that no matter what jobs we hold, we struggle with the Judge and the guilt it presents us with because somehow, somewhere, the concept of unworthiness crept into our societal norms and mores and into our neural patterns. As a result, we are programmed to think that we are never enough, what we do is never enough.
It takes tremendous intent to move away from this kind of programming to one that silences the Judge all together. And that’s the good news about this nemesis — although it takes a lot of time, effort and determination- it can be silenced.
We know we’ve succeeded in gagging it when we start writing or blogging daily.