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Voices in your Head, Part II

Last month I wrote about how to make your internal critics go away by writing about them, and told you that my critic was named Ed.  But Ed is only one of them – like most of us, I have several internal critics, nearly all of them nasty.  Here is a piece I wrote about Cousin Irene, the voice inside my head who is in charge of procrastination, laziness, and all the addictive distractions there are.  
Cousin Irene lurches into the room, trailing leavings from her purse – a dried-up lipstick, a wallet with a broken zipper, a scarf that has gum wadded in it, and of course those old used Kleenexes. She doesn’t pick anything up, because that is my job.

She says she is tired because she played so many games of computer solitaire. She plops down on the most comfortable chair in the room. Her bulk overflows the cushion and her dress rides up on her thighs; she is wearing nylon socks that only reach halfway up her meaty calves.

She tells me it’s too hot to write today, and besides there is nothing interesting to write about, and even if there was something interesting, I would not be able to find it. She demands a glass of wine, even though it’s only two in the afternoon. She asks what’s in the refrigerator, and then says I should make her a plate of something, whatever is there.

She turns on the TV; it is Judge Judy, which suits her fine, she likes to sneer at all those stupid people. She spills her wine on the front of her dress but doesn’t bother to wipe it off.

After I wrote this, I asked Cousin Irene to leave. She gave me a sly look out of her piggy little eyes and promised to visit me again tomorrow.

Oh joy.

Do you have a Cousin Irene? If you do, write about her. Otherwise, she just might move in with you forever.

Kim Pearson is an author, ghostwriter, and owner of Primary Sources, a writing service that helps others become authors of professional and compelling books and articles. She has authored 6 books of her own, and ghostwritten more than 30 non-fiction books and memoirs. To learn more about her books or services, visit
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  1. So far, I've been lucky that the voices in my head are usually my characters telling me to 'get on with it.'

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  2. Eek! I don't have a Cousin Irene. Yet. Maybe I'm too new to the writing craft. Hoping that's not the case. So far I have characters living in my brain who keep morphing the story in different directions, but I'm okay with that.

  3. I do have a cousin Irene, but I also have a chronic pain condition. There are times Irene uses my condition to make excuses, and times I really need to not plop my butt in a chair, as that makes the pain much worse.

    Irene makes it very hard to tell which one is telling me not to write.

  4. Great idea. I'll have to go back and check out last month's post. I have internal critics and this might just do the trick. Thanks!

  5. My inner critic is Diego...he's quite the santimonious little $#@*. Whenever he gets too loud, I go read some Julia Cameron. :-)

  6. No matter what we call those demons that play with our minds, it is imperative that we tell them to get lost when they decide to take up residence. Personifying it like you did, makes it easier to tell the demon to bug off.

  7. Good idea for getting rid of Diego the sanctimonious &*^(%! Cousin Irene is very very afraid of Julia Cameron, and Natalie Goldberg too.

  8. I have one of those Irene's also. She tells me to write at my own pace. If I want to go on a walk instead or watch TV, it's perfectly okay to do so because writing should not be a burden. Sometimes I agree with her, other times I know I need to exert discipline or nothing will get accomplished.

    Morgan Mandel

  9. You can keep Cousin Irene and her dried-up lipstick! If I had an inner critic, I'd name him Butch Buford. Maybe Irene and Butch could get together (and leave us writers alone).


    The Write Soil

  10. Isn't it amazing that we so often do all the things that need doing—except the one we need to do the most?

    "Off with the lot of you now," I say. "Ed, Irene, that means you too!"

    Wonderful post, Kim! We all have our Eds and our Irenes.

  11. I realize that this is about your inner voices and criticisms, but I find the characterization of "Cousin Irene" to be offensive.

    It is one thing to use a stereotype as an example, but to not acknowledge the use of such an extreme stereotype as a stereotype is offensive.

    Most of us fat folks are hard working at whatever we are doing.

  12. I've found my inner-voices to be quite useful: when waiting in a crowd for the next elevator car, I slap my forehead repeatedly and yell, "Be quiet, all of you!" When the next car arrives, I'm the only one getting on.


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