Monday, November 01, 2010

Shutting Down the Internal Editor

I'm actually writing this in October, but since the Writing Meme is going on, I figured it would be best just to program it to show up in November to avoid double-posts.

Anywho, at the time I was cruising through the Absolute Write blog update forum and found this blog entry. It's pretty hard not to relate to that letter. Internal editor getting in the way all the time, pointing out stuff that's wrong, deadlines, all sorts of annoying crap. I know, the whole internal editor thing and the way we writers react to it makes it sound like we have multiple personalities, but I'd like to point something out to you.

First of all, if you didn't think we had multiple personalities before hearing the way we talk about internal editors makes me wonder about you. We have dozens of characters bouncing around our heads all the time, and it takes an internal editor bit to make you voice such concerns? Geezo.

Second of all, most writers, when asked, will mention something about an internal editor and often include how it's a bitch. It's like there's this other little part of your brain reminding you of all this other junk while you're just trying to write and get the freakin' words on the page. Maybe it's left brain vs. right. I don't know. What I do know is that it is possible to shut it down.

While Ms. Morrigan wrote a letter, I left a comment on her blog stating that writing letters to my internal editor doesn't work. She ignores them. Likewise, talking to her and telling her to shut up doesn't work. I've had to resort to more drastic measures to put her in her place.

When working on most books, she was never a problem. I'd just breeze on through, la-de-da. But that was before I went to Seton Hill and discovered everything WRONG with my writing. Suddenly my internal editor didn't suck at her job (if she even existed in the first place) and had plenty of cool new rules and regulations to implement. So once I began to write my newest manscript, she wouldn't shut up. Let me repeat that: My internal editor would NOT SHUT UP. I rewrote the beginning at least five times. I actually lost count. I struggled with word choice, created scenes that refused to work. Could not decide upon proper names. Nothing was perfect, and that was the problem.

First drafts are crap, to be base about it. They're the ideas slapped down without everything being perfect. That's what revision is for. We all know this. Revision is for fine tuning those good ideas, tweaking scenes or cutting them, and fixing up all the spelling and grammar we goofed on the first time around. My internal editor, however, kept insisting everything be perfect the first time. There is no chance of this happening. Ever.

Finally, after asking some advice from people, I visualized my internal editor, got a little violent, and stuffed her in a cage and put a lock on it. It sounds ridiculous, but visualization helps. It worked. I was still writing junk, mind you, but at least the thoughts were getting onto the paper. I could fix everything later like I was supposed to. It was still a little tough at the beginning because I was still uncertain about the opening, but at least I'd finally jumped into it and got the story rolling.

So do what you have to in order to shut down your internal editor so you can actually get some writing done. Write a letter, do some mental pep-talking, or be like me and just shove her in a damn box and refuse to let her out until you're good and ready for her to come back out and do her job.

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