A jar of angry mice

Do you ever find yourself battling voices in your head?

Especially when you’re trying to write?

It can be very distracting, when all of your different mental personalities are reading over your shoulder as you type, giving their two cents.


I don’t know about you, but I receive opinions on everything I’m doing whether it’s taking a shower or running a stop sign on my bicycle.

There’s always imaginary, alternate-ending stories that play out for every occasion of my life.

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, shared this great exercise for helping to quiet all of those voices.

So, here’s what you do:

“Close your eyes and get quiet for a minute, until the chatter starts up.mouse

Then isolate one of the voices and imagine the person speaking as a mouse.

Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar.

Then isolate another voice, pick it up by the trail, drop it in he jar.

And so on.

Drop in any high-maintenance parental units, drop in any contractors, lawyers, colleagues, children, anyone who is whining in your head.

Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people clawing at the glass, jabbering away, trying to make you feel like shit because you won’t do what they want–won’t give them more money, won’t be more successful, won’t see them more often.

Then imagine that there is a volume-control button on the bottle.

Turn it all the way up for a minute, and listen to the stream of angry, neglected, guilt-mongering voices.

Then turn it all the way down and watch the frantic mice lunge at the glass, trying to get to your.

Leave it down, and get back to your [writing].

A writer friend of mine suggests opening the jar and shooting them all in the head.

But I think he’s a little angry, and I’m sure nothing like this would ever occur to you.”

I hope that helps, or that at very least, you cracked up a little reading about it. 😉

Have a great day!

2 thoughts on “A jar of angry mice

  1. This is perfect for me as I start trying to write articles for online travel magazines. The voices are getting louder, since it’s for something ‘professional’. Thanks for the exercise.

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