Island Hopping With My Inner Critic

I live on a big island in the Andaman Sea called Phuket. Yes, it looks like it’s pronounced fuck-it, but it’s not. It’s pronounced fou-ket. You might expect that living here would be one endless string of beach days, hanging in hammocks and cheap massages, but it’s not. While it’s easier for me to get to the beach than it was when we lived in Arizona, the demands of writing a novel and the financial realities of life eliminated the possibility that living here was going to be an endless vacation.

One of the first things that I realized about becoming a writer was that my fantasy of writing a novel while stretched out in a hammock, sipping on a fresh, cold coconut while overlooking a stunning seascape would never work. I discovered that for me, swaying in the breeze in a hammock with a panoramic view of some idyllic beach made me want to do anything but stare at a computer. I wanted to stare at the ocean, or the butterflies, or try and figure out what the hell those crazy red birds were. Anything but writing. I only tried to write from my hammock one time before I realized (heartbreakingly) that it wouldn’t work.

Koh Yao Noi – Hill House Bungalows

One of the first things that I realized about being a writer is that it’s incredibly hard work, and that it’s going to take more discipline than anything I’ve ever done before. I managed to build several very successful IT companies from nothing back in the US, and that was easier than the process of writing my first novel. I’m not exaggerating at all. Especially living in Thailand, where I’m constantly tempted by the potential distraction of a delicious, cheap meal, perfect beach weather, a blissful $8 massage, or even going out for a run. When the sky is blue and the sun is shining, the last thing I want to be doing is sitting in front of a computer.

I’ve had to really clamp myself down into a rigid schedule that I work very hard to maintain. This is the only way I feel like I’m making any progress, and even then, there are very few days where I feel like my progress has been anything close to satisfactory. My productivity, no matter how impressive, never seems to be enough to satisfy my inner critic. Any time I deviate from my schedule, or there’s a slight drop in the number of hours that I’m spending on the work, my inner critic gets out the fire ax and starts hacking away at the graffiti-covered walls of my subconscious.

Koh Phi Phi – Relax Beach Resort

I had some friends from the USA visiting Thailand last week and I joined them for an island hopping trip around the Andaman Sea. I brought my laptop, and I had big plans of continuing to wake up at 4:30AM every day and carrying on with my regular routine, getting my writing work done before they woke up. Unfortunately, I never even opened the laptop, and ended up just taking a week off and enjoying the company of some dear friends and the natural beauty of the islands. I slept in until 6 or 7 every morning.

I have a tendency to place unreasonable expectations on myself, especially when it comes to my writing. I’ve struggled to make my peace with the pace of my progress, and ¬†most of the time, I feel like I’m failing at the whole thing, and at life in general. Even when my friends who are reading early drafts tell me that I’m doing good work, and that they want to read more, my inner critic tries to convince me that they’re just being nice.

Koh Phi Phi – View Point

The most effective way that I’ve found to successfully apply duct tape to the mouth of my inner critic is to just keep working as hard as I possibly can. When I get results, or when I write something that I’m particularly pleased with, the critic seems to lose his voice, so I’m just going to continue working as hard as I can to produce better work.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the places we visited last week. I made a decision early on that my web site won’t be a travel blog. There are about 293,384,531 travel blogs maintained by people living in Thailand, and I’ve already got my hands full with writing my novels. Still, I’ve got some nice pictures from this trip, and I thought I’d share them with you. I hope you enjoy them! It was my first time visiting Koh Lanta and Koh Yao Noi, and I’m looking forward to visiting again someday. They’re both wonderful, laid back places full of beautiful beaches and friendly, kind people.

Have you ever been to any of these places? Let me know in the comments below…