What I learned from Lynda Barry about stories and flow and avoiding the inner critic!

I was extremely fortunate to take a week-long workshop in person with Lynda Barry back in 2001. A LOONG time ago now!

That workshop, "Writing the Unthinkable" was all about "seeing your story" and following behind it, "like water skiing."

It was great! She taught us so much about memory, and place, and envisioning yourself in a scene.

The Amazing Amazing  Lynda Barry!

The Amazing Amazing Lynda Barry!

It was all about avoiding the inner critic.

Lynda joked that if you saw the inner critic in a bar, he would be the BIGGEST ASSHOLE but we STILL LISTEN TO HIM! 

Her trick was to concentrate on moving your hand, and watching your hand make lines, and letters and forms. That way, the story could come out from the back of the brain. We got ourselves into a gentle trance, by focusing on good handwriting, and letter forms and starting in a visual place in our mind.

It works, and I try to get into that state sometimes too, even still. 

But for me, it was hard, too! I didn't have the focus to keep it up.

I was too squirrelly.

I had to invent something else I could keep up myself.

But I had to find my own way.

I had to find something where I could TRICK the inner critic. Outrun it. I formalized a system that I had used for years, but never could outline the steps.

Now I can!

And I will share them with you now.

This is how you trick the inner critic.

  1. You make a list of things to draw from and forget the list.  It's so random-seeming the critic won't think it's much of a threat.

  2. Then you visually combine things from the list. Things are starting to get deeper, but the critic doesn't know that yet.

  3. By the time he (the asshole in the bar!) catches on, we're playing a new game, we're picking a panel and listing other things. The critic is busy with old stuff. We were drawing, but now we're writing. The inner critic is confused!

  4. We play again from the new list, now we are drawing again. Just a 4-panel comic. Seems harmless. The inner critic doesn't seem to bothered.

  5. Now we flush him out of the room! We add so much material it couldn't all be important. But some of it will be, and he isn't fast enough to tell good from bad. We just have to keep adding. This is the most important part.

  6. Now we can gently use the critic outside our head. We ask him, what's good, what should we keep. This can be HARD, but it's why we do it in a group. Other REAL voices help keep that critic doing the job of editing, and not the job of tearing you down. If your critic is still too strong, you just plow ahead with our help!

  7. We enlist the voice if need be to finish the story we've developed, and hopefully, we've had a good network to help root us on. Sometimes people don't finish. That's ok. This enough is a super experience! 

I say it's like YOGA. You don't need to "finish" your yoga. You just do it, and do it again. It connects you to your body, and your creative self.


This is what we'll do in Storytelling Flow!

We'll build slowly step by step and let ourselves be surprised by what we've come up with!

You'll learn to trust your own ideas and give yourself permission to tell your own stories.

You'll tone and stretch your imagination. 

You'll generate so many ideas you'll have scraps left over. You'll meet your story self.

You'll be granted freedompermission, and a new process, Storytelling Flow. which let's you be you, and try your own ideas on for size. 

Limited time class discount!

Sliding Scale Pre-Order Ends  Saturday!

Want to pay $50? Great!
Want to pay $100? Fine!
Want to pay $250? Great!

We'll see you there!!

This course is similar to one I've taught at SVA for $250. 

Come join me in flowing through 2018!

-Tom at SAW!