Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tips to Silence Your Internal Editor


I’ve spoken with a lot of writers who have trouble disconnecting their INTERNAL EDITOR when they're working on an early draft of a manuscript. This overly helpful person lives inside most of us and comes in handy when we’re putting the finishing touches on our manuscript. But when we’re in the midst of a creative surge, that same person can short circuit our progress.

Today's post will give you the tips you need to silence your Internal Editor.

First you should know there’s a scientific reason for that roadblock. The creative act of writing your first draft stems from the right side—or creative side—of the brain. Later in the process, when polishing begins, the left side takes over. Here are some of the characteristics of each side.


Right Brain
  • Visual in process, focusing more on patterns and images.
  • Generally intuitive, led by feelings.
  • Is the epitome of multi-tasking, able to process ideas simultaneously.
  • Progresses from the big picture to the details.
  • Lacks organization, utilizes free association.
Left Brain
  • More verbal, needs to find specific words to express ideas.
  • Analytical, led by logic.
  • Takes things step by step, one idea at a time.
  • Organizes details first before moving to the big picture.
  • Very organized, utilizing lists and detailed plans.

Mixing up the process—trying to use both sides of the brain at the same time—can lead to a tangled mess and a major roadblock. All of this information is good to know, but what if our left-brained, Internal Editor won’t go away? How do we make her be quiet? Unfortunately, there isn’t one way that works for everyone, but here are some tips that should help.
  • Don’t give in to temptation. Our Internal Editor gets stronger the more frequently we give in to her demands. If she thinks you need a certain word before you can finish that sentence, stay strong. Type XXX and go on. Later, during the rewriting process, you’ll have plenty of time to find the right word. This goes for anything that demands you slow the creative process. At this point in your manuscript speed is your best friend.
  • Set a daily and weekly word count goal. This can often sidetrack the Internal Editor because of her need to meet a goal. Sometimes, in her drive to succeed she can even become an ally.
  • Make lists in a separate notebook. Use your computer for the story, but if the need for details overshadows the creative urge, make a quick note in a notebook. Don’t let yourself get bogged down, but let the free association part of your right brain give you ideas to explore later with your more logical left side.
  • Don’t give in to fear. Many times our Internal Editor is driven by fear. Fear that this draft isn’t good, won’t work or just doesn’t make sense. Remind yourself that this version isn’t written in stone. Sometimes just giving ourselves permission to write what Anne Lamott calls the sh*%&# first draft is all we need to derail our Internal Editor.

All of these can help, but I’d like to know what tricks you use to keep that INNER EDITOR quiet.

Don't forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

16 comments:

  1. These are great tips - the word count goal has definitely helped me! What's also helped is to keep my sessions at the computer focused - meaning I don't try to edit AND write in the same session. Honestly, when I can, it's totally best for me to just be writing and then, when I'm finished with the book, switch to editing. With deadlines, I'm now having to learn to edit in the morning then take a break to switch out of that mode and then go back to write.

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    1. Elizabeth, that's a great schedule to follow! I've had to learn to do the opposite. It seems my best creative time is in the morning. So I edit in the afternoon. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

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  2. My Inner Editor is huge. I couldn't even write this comment without her nudging me to edit it! :) Thanks for the suggestions. I'll give them a try.
    Blessings!
    Pam at 2 Encourage

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    1. Pam, let me know if any work, or if you find something else that works as well. Good Luck! Blessings, E

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  3. Edie -

    Thank you so much for this! My internal editor has been ruling over my writing. Very timely article.

    Remembering you in my prayers.

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    1. Robin, I"m glad this was helpful. My internal editor is a bully, so I know how you feel! Thanks so much for the prayers! Blessings, E

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  4. Great post, Edie. The tips are helpful and cutting the cord is a perfect visual.

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    1. Kim, thank you! I've started buying some of my images from photos.com and this is one I got there. I've been so pleased with what I've been able to find. Blessings, E

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  5. Oh, I soooo needed this! Thanks!

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    1. Don't we all! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  6. Probably my biggest help was learning to use Microsoft Word. When I started blogging I used to blog site processor and would read over before publishing. About a year into it someone asked for a copy of one of my posts. Happy to comply I copied and pasted into Word. The number of errors and mistakes was staggering. Grammar is my weak spot, but at least I realize it. Now I do everything on Word first. I do not try to correct anything till I get whatever is in my mind out. Then I use Word to fix as much as I can. I still have a lot of problems, but that is not all bad. I am going to make some editor a lot of money. LOL At least I hope so.

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    1. I compose all my posts in MS Word. It helps me with the errors and it gives me a backup of all my blog posts in case something unthinkable happens on the Internet. Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  7. Thanks for very good tips, Edie! My left and right brain war all the time. lol

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    1. Pat, it helped me to know this was an expected occurrence. Thanks so much for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  8. I've worked as a free-lance editor for so long, that it is hard to turn off that left-brain. I have found a modified version of two things you mentioned above. Instead of using XXX for a word or making a note in a separate notebook, I keep track changes on. I put a comment to myself to go back and research something, or to find a more descriptive word, or to come back and describe inner emotions. Knowing that my editor notes are there for me to come back to frees my mind to keep going with the story. Still, this is something I have to work at and train myself not to edit when in "writer" mode. "Editor" mode will come later. Thanks for the tips and hints.

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    1. Judy, the track changes idea is a GREAT one! Thanks so much for sharing, Blessings, E

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