Your inner editor can be your best writing ally, keeping your ego in check and your writing from becoming a bloated, sweaty mess. But sometimes, you’ve got to lay down the law. Is compulsive editing stopping you from finishing a first draft, or hell, finishing anything?
If so, check out this advice, from three experienced writers, on how they banish the editor and finish their work, before going back in with a red pen.
Don’t Burn Daylight
From blogger and writer Tarissa Helms (find her at tarissahelms.com):
What works best for me is to write first thing in the morning and just write, as quickly as I can, pouring out all the ideas that have been brewing in my head during the night. For some reason, the later and later it gets in the day, the harder and harder I get on myself.
In the middle of the afternoon is the worst time. I start getting tired and cranky and super picky about my writing at this time of day. So, it’s a good time of day for editing. I always laugh to look back at my writing from the morning and see how much crazy punctuation I scattered about during my writing frenzy.
Put Down All the Possibilities
Self-editing is a very common problem and can take some serious discipline and active attention to keep yourself from continuing the habit. My best suggestion is to write down EVERYTHING that comes to you in that moment. A good example of this is if you can’t decide on word choice and it’s bothering you and therefore keeping you from continuing your writing. Instead of trying to choose the perfect word right then, write down all the possible words in your head, separated by slashes, perhaps make the words bold or put them in parentheses so you can find them later. Then you can move on without fear of forgetting all the options you have. You can do this with word choice, sentence phrasing, and even entire paragraphs you’re not sure you’d like to include in the final product.
Here’s what consistently interrupts my writing train of thought: Spell Check. I can’t stand having those squiggly red lines under my text. I find it almost more embarrassing than the typo itself, and I’m compelled to break off my train of thought, go back, retype, and try to pick up where I left off. What I lose is momentum, and eventually, if I correct enough mistakes, I roll to a stop.
Know what I did? I got radical. I turned off Spell Check. And you can, too!
What are your methods for shutting down your inner editor? Share them in the comments!