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Literary Arts
Local author Rebecca Kuder, here at the Olive Kettering Library at Antioch College, is leading a free workshop Oct. 22 at the Yellow Springs Library to demystify and disarm one’s inner critic. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Local author Rebecca Kuder, here at the Olive Kettering Library at Antioch College, is leading a free workshop Oct. 22 at the Yellow Springs Library to demystify and disarm one’s inner critic. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

At the Library — Learning to disarm the inner critic

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“The faster I write, the more I’m able to outrun my self-doubt.” — Gayle Brandeis

You know the voice. It’s the one that says you’re not good enough. It’s the one that says not only will you not succeed, you probably shouldn’t even try.

For the past nine years, local author Rebecca Kuder has dialogued with an inner voice that once kept her from accessing her creativity as a writer, and her joy as a person.

Dubbing it the “inner critic,” Kuder now teaches others how to relate to a force fueled by fear, shame and self-doubt.

“I asked myself, ‘why is there a part of me that is trying to tear me down?’” Kuder recalled in a recent interview. “I realized that it is a scared, wounded part of me that is trying to protect me.”

In an upcoming free workshop, Kuder will lead participants through writing and sketching exercises to discover their own inner critic and, ultimately, move beyond it to tap into their creativity. The workshop is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, at the Yellow Springs Library.

“I try to trick the brain by getting it embodied outside of me,” Kuder said of her playful exercises, which involve sketching, naming and writing a letter to one’s inner critic, and are modeled after other exercises she’s learned.

Everyone, from teenagers to elders, struggles with similar self-defeating internal messages, Kuder has found as she has spread the work.

“Usually it’s some version of ‘not worthy, or ‘who do you think you are?’” Kuder said of the inner critic’s dictums.

And in Kuder’s own practice, in which she once wrote a letter to her inner critic every day for a month, and still dialogues with it frequently, she feels she is better able to disarm a harsh and judgmental presence.

“I feel like I have a voice now,” Kuder said. “It’s so liberating.”

As for the inner critic’s origins, Kuder pointed to messages from childhood and internalized expectations from advertising to fit in, although it’s different for each person.

Kuder, who grew up in the village and graduated from Yellow Springs High School in 1984, is a published author of short stories and essays, holds an M.F.A. in creative writing and teaches writing at Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton. She has also begun to offer inner critic and creativity-sparking workshops for companies and organizations.

Kuder sees her work as helping people to notice the voice, isolate it and realize it is not the truth. She writes daily and when she goes out into the world, sometimes asks her inner critic to stay home.

“I don’t have to have my inner critic with me today.” 

Attendees should wear comfortable clothing and bring pen and paper. The workshop is for anyone — not just writers — aged 13 and older.

Other activities for adults and teens

• Jewelry making with Lily Rose for ages 18 and older will be held Saturday, Oct. 20, 10:30 a.m.–noon. Lily Rose will instruct the class in how to make a period piece of costume jewelry. Advance registration is required; call 352-4003 to sign up.

• “It’s all Food and Games,” for grades 6 and up, will be held Wednesday, Oct. 24, 4–5 p.m. Teens are invited to meet up at the library for board games and snacks, and talk about what kinds of programs the library should plan for teens in the future.

• Basic oil painting for ages 18 and older will be taught on Wednesdays, Oct. 24 and 31, 5:30–7:30 p.m. Artist Christine Klinger will teach the basics of oil painting, including composition, value and light, as well as tools and materials, basic color theory and the nature of traditional and water-mixable oils. All materials will be provided, but participants are free to bring in a few simple items to make a still life or photographs, magazines or books showing simple landscapes. All levels are welcome. Advance registration is required; call 352-4003 to sign up.

• Pittsburg author Linda Schmitmeyer will speak at the library on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2 p.m., about her recently released book, “Rambler: A Family Pushes Through the Fog of Mental Illness.” In the book, Linda shares an intimate and forthright account of how she and her family navigated her husband’s bipolar and schizoaffective disorder diagnoses while the couple were raising three young children. The talk is co-sponsored by the library and the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The author blogs about issues related to mental health and mental illness at

Activities for children

• Preschool story time will be held Fridays, Oct. 19 and 26, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Ms. Janet will lead young children in stories, songs, rhymes and a craft.

• The Keepers of the School Mystery Club for ages 7 and older will meet Tuesday, Oct. 23, 3–4 p.m. The group will meet to hear a chapter read aloud from “Fear Itself,” the second book in the “Keepers of the School” mystery series by Andrew Clements. After the reading, participants will have a snack and do an activity based on the book.

• Baby song and rhyme time for babies and toddlers and accompanying adults will be held Wednesdays, Oct. 24 and 31, 10:30–11:30 a.m. Songs, simple stories and rhymes will be shared by Ms. Janet, followed by open play time.

Book discussion groups 

• The Gardening Book Club will meet Thursday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m., to discuss “Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants” by Douglas Tallamy. All are welcome.

• The Tecumseh Land Trust book discussion group will meet Thursday, Oct. 25, 4 p.m., to discuss “Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore” by Elizabeth Rush. The author guides readers through some of the places where climate and weather change have been most dramatic, from the Gulf Coast to Miami and from New York City to the Bay Area. All are welcome; copies of the book are available through the library via SearchOhio and OhioLink. For more information, call 767-9490 or email

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