From Natalie Goldberg’s Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft.
She has a novel and potentially liberating way of thinking about those internal voices that keep you up at night telling you that you’re uniquely flawed and no good and everyone hates you and why don’t you just go away already and stop even thinking of trying to write anything. She says:
Through writing and meditations I identified monkey mind, that constant critic, commentator, editor, general slug and pain-in-the-ass, the voice that says “I can’t do this, I’m bored, I hate myself”… I saw that most of my life had been spent following that voice as though it were God, telling me the real meaning of life…But as I wrote longer, went deeper, I realized its true purpose: monkey mind is the guardian at the gate. We have to prove our mettle, our determination, stand up to its nagging, shrewish cry, before it surrenders the hidden jewels. And what are those jewels? our own human core and heart, of course.
I’ve seen it over and over. The nearer I get to expressing my essence, the louder, more zealous that belittling voice becomes. It has been helpful to understand it not as a diminishing parent but as something universal, impersonal, a kind of spiritual test. [Thunder and Lightning, p. 16]