Friday, September 14, 2012

Dealing with the inner editor

My inner editor is an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent nuisance who makes my writing life hell. His sense of propriety is so high, that it takes tremendous effort from my side to scale the walls he builds around my first drafts.

He has started interfering with my plot, character motives, scenes and has thrown my writing rhythm off kilter. I was wondering why this time my first draft is taking so long. Usually my first drafts are quick. I can get them down either on paper or on the laptop in a jiffy.

It’s all because of my inner editor sitting on my shoulder, squinting at the screen, its eyes narrowed with disapproval, its face contorted with disgust, its shrill voice screaming a flurry of instructions. Practically every instruction starts with “ don’t write like this, this is not appropriate, 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.”

By the time I finish arguing with my inner editor, I have wasted precious writing time. The deadline for my first draft has come and long since gone. I have another deadline looming large. I still have to write the last few chapters. Make that the last one third of the book.

Many times I have shut down the laptop to silence my inner editor. This time I decided enough is enough. I can’t let my inner editor bully me. So I packed his bags and sent the bully on a long holiday, as I need to write the first draft my way.

The moment I kicked it out, I got several plot points in picture. I have gone over the earlier scenes and made the changes. This separation is doing me lots of good. It’s given me the much needed breathing space to write the first draft my way. When my inner editor returns, it will probably die of shock. It’s a risk I am willing to take. I also know that quite a lot of what I am writing now will get the axe when I visit the city of edits. I really don’t mind that as I am enjoying my writing after days.

I would like to know how do you all battle with your inner editors while working on your books? How do you deal with a moralistic inner editor who is driving you up the wall? How do you all silence your inner editors? Please tell us. We all can benefit from your experiences with your  inner editors. 

19 comments:

  1. True Rachna!Sometimes the inner editor plays a spoil sport:) I generally ignore when writing first draft and at the time of review ask him to take on and suggest !

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  2. I have to keep him happy with a few changes and adjustments here and there.

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  3. Nice creative post, Rachna. Once I ignore my inner editor the first draft takes off. I let go of the moralistic ideas. I let my thoughts run wild. Being away from my computer and the internet lets my mind work on my ideas. I need silence, meditation and a change of scenery.

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  4. Great post, Rachna.

    I deal with the inner editor at the beggining stages when I'm plotting. I listen to all her doubts and then I tell her she's done her job and it's time to go away. Then I get writing and am able to be quite serene through it.

    Jai

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  5. I totally understand! I'm a slow writer because my internal editor is so nitpicky.

    Good luck! :)

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  6. I tell my inner editor it has to wait until the editing phase then I let it go crazy.

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  7. I try to remind my inner editor things can always be changed later on--not that I necessarily will, but I'm trying to get some writing done here, darn it!

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  8. Hi Friends, I am noticing that all of us have fierce and long battles with our inner editors. Handling them is a tricky art that we are constantly learning.

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  9. As I attempt my first story, my inner editor is asking, as a novice, what on earth do I think I'm doing with such "fancy ideas"...

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  10. My inner editor won't shut up. So I do my best to make my real editor's job easier and he can focus on making my books better, rather than cleaning up silly mistakes.

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  11. My inner editor can be very demanding. I try to maintain a balance, and like Alex C., I let the inner editor have a little ground.

    One thing that has been freeing for me is a quote I read on a blog. I forget who was quoted and exactly how it was said, but basically the idea was that's it's okay to let yourself write poorly. Get the ideas down, and then come back to work on it later. I am a great one to tell this to my students, but not one to practice it. After hearing this quote, I have been doing it more and it has helped me a lot. Perhaps it's not even that I write awful stuff as much as just ignore the editor and forge ahead. I get much more writing done that way. :)

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  12. I flick him off my shoulder or bribe him to be quiet with chocolate. :D

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  13. I'm glad you sent him packing! So glad you are enjoying the process again!

    Bless you, girlfriend!

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  14. Good for you Rachna!
    I recently wrote another two 1,000 word crime suspence stories and did not allow my inner critic a look-in and it worked! I wrote them as writing exercises and enjoyed the finished results. Had I written them as stories to submit then my brain would have erected down its barracades and filled its moats and not allowed me past the gate.

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  15. I am always battling my IE! I can't shut her up!

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  16. During my first draft I HAVE to shut my inner editor up. If I don't I get nowhere. I tell him he can come out during the 2nd draft and that's usually enough to make him go away--but he always comes back so I have to tell him a few times during the course of the writing ;)

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  17. I don't know exactly how I banish my inner editor, but he's usually there the strongest when I first start a new draft. I just do my best to ignore him until he quiets down!

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