Even though Wilhem Steinitz is still consistently ranked as one of the Top Ten Greatest Chess Players in History, his reign as World Champion did not absolve him of criticism. His approach was based on positional advantages, and though it would later become widely accepted as an elementary strategy, it was initially considered cowardly. Yet Steinitz consistently subdued his critics through his game play. How did he manage this? Steinitz did not ignore his critics, he didn’t dismiss them as ignorant (though that may often have been the case). Instead, he carefully analyzed the legitimacy of their critiques and considered what their comments might reveal.
We can do the same with the inner critic that all too frequently poisons the creative process with doubt and self-deprecation.
Sometimes the negativity that we bring to creative endeavors is entirely irrational, but that doesn’t mean it has been invented by the mind at random. Facing the inner critic and exposing the sources of frustration may not always alleviate those negative emotions, but it can reveal a personal truth that may not have been previously apparent. Embrace that, and see what becomes of it. Maybe the new perspective will inspire a breakthrough of its own.
And, if you haven’t already, give chess a try. Though hailed as a game of logic and reason, strong players demonstrate remarkable creativity. In my short time studying the game (about 1 year), it has broadened my overall thought processes and strengthened my ability to think analytically in all life situations. This expanded state of mind has also allowed me to consider broader possibilities in my writing.
If you’re interested, this is a great place to learn the game.