The ever present, ever cautious, constantly interfering inner editor is a nuisance we writers can do without. The inner editor which is our inherent, intrinsic and individual sense of right or wrong can be detrimental to the process of writing. It can interfere with our plot, mess up the structure of our stories, disturb our scenes, upset the character’s dialogues and POV, send the character arc off kilter, and throw our writing rhythm into a tizzy.
I don’t know about others, but I am constantly writing with the ghost of my conscience peeping over my shoulder, its face contorted with disgust, its shrill voice screaming a flurry of instructions like a mother warning a child on the cusp of a huge tantrum. Almost all the instructions start with “ don’t do that, why have you written this, mellow that down, how can a school girl think like this, how can you think that about a teacher, that’s not appropriate behaviour for a ten year old Indian school girl/boy, that boy is not a role model, this is just not right.”
Unfortunately for me, the two middle grade books I am currently working on are based in a school. So whatever happens, well.. it happens inside a classroom, between students, between teachers and students, teachers and the Principal and between the Principal and the parents.
In this scenario my stuck up inner editor needs to go on a long holiday, preferably paid one way, leaving me in peace to write the first draft my way. If I were to listen to my sensible inner editor, I would never be able to do justice to the theme of my books. School children are going to be naughty, they are going to play pranks, bully other students, trouble and irritate the teachers, cheat in tests. I can’t afford to have angels as students. Most students are not angels, and angels may not make interesting students.
After several showdowns, angry words and sullen silences, I sent my inner editor on a long holiday. I needed to write the first draft my way. Packing its bags, so that it did not return with any flimsy excuse, I waved a cheerful and excited goodbye to my over concerned inner editor and celebrated the joyous event by going berserk with the plot, theme and the situations. I enjoyed this trial separation, it gave me the much needed breathing space to write the books my way.
I feel that I am able to really do justice to the theme, remain true to the souls of the stories (which is pranks and mischief) by not over thinking about the consequences of my character’s actions. Children will be mischievous, and should be mischievous. That’s the joy of childhood. And it’s just a book I am writing, not a code of conduct for children.
I am sure when my inner editor returns, it will probably die of shock. But it’s a risk I am willing to take.
Have you battled with your own inner editors while working on your books? How do you deal with a moralistic inner editor who is driving you up the wall with it’s strong sense of ethics. Please tell us, I am sure we all can benefit from your experiences with your personal inner editors.