man with devil and angel on his shoulders (id, ego, superego)

“Inner Critic” Versus “Supportive Witness”

May 26, 2023 2:27 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

I remember when I first started doing voice over work. Being new to it, I often wondered if I was doing it “right.” Sometimes that wondering would turn to worry and my “inner critic” would start monitoring the script line by line. To be honest,  that “hall monitor” could get pretty snarky, like a high school bully saying things like, “That stunk! You’re offending Doritos everywhere!!” Ouch. Not only that, negatively judging the way I was saying a line could negatively affect the next line as well, like a game of dominoes. 

During these times, I’d take note of my body and realize my shoulders were tense or my hand was in a loose fist seconds away from clenching tightly. Yes, my inner critic, that critical voice in my head, also had its own body language! 

What I learned through time, is that trying so damn hard to “get it right” would ensure that I would not, in fact, “get it right.”  By letting the inner critic run the show, it would run havoc in a performance by allowing it to intimidate or restrict any fun or intuitive play, thus creating a massive road block between myself and a good read. If I wanted a chance at having fun and connecting to my copy in a relaxed, authentic, and believable way, I would have to put a muzzle on that inner critic’s snout. I eventually did.   

The thing is, I still have off days, 20 years later, where I am perhaps extra critical of my performance. The difference is, I’ve replaced that mean, snotty teenager of an “inner critic” with a kinder, more mature “supportive witness.”  This voice is much nicer, gives me breathing room, and lets me take creative chances.

When I am in performance mode, my “supportive witness” might say, “Nice work, but slow it down a little,” or “try a new choice on this next line.” This voice either waits to speak up until I’m done recording, or works quietly alongside me as I do, offering helpful suggestions and guidance along the way without controlling the performance. 

Before you get worried, I am not making lunch dates or attempting to text birthday wishes to my “supportive witness.” This voice in my head is simply myself being supportive and offering constructive feedback of my voice over work. I am comfortable listening to it, and much prefer it to the mean girl “inner critic.” She can go suck on a rotten egg. So there. 

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This post was written by Simone Stevens

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