Silence Your Inner Editor

© Edie Melson, May 2011

Is your Inner Editor a friend or foe? For most of us the answer is dependent on where we are in the writing process. This overly helpful person lives inside most of us and comes in handy when we’re putting the finishing touches on our manuscripts. But when we’re in the midst of a creative surge, that same help can short-circuit our progress.

There’s a scientific reason for that roadblock. The creative act of writing a 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.

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 is good to know, but what if our left-brained Inner Editor won’t go away? There isn’t one way that works for everyone, but here are some tips that should help.

  • Don’t give in to temptation. Our Inner 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. At this point in your manuscript, speed is your best friend.
  • Set a daily and weekly word count goal. This can often sidetrack the Inner 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.
  • Don’t give in to fear. Many times our Inner 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 a crummy first draft is all we need to derail our inner editor.

No matter how insistent your Inner Editor, these tips can help you change her role from enemy to encourager.

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for life’s stories. She loves to share her 16+ years experience in the field of writing through mentoring and teaching others. Edie serves as co-editor at Reality Writingand assistant director of Christian Writers Conferences. Be sure to “join the conversation” at Edie’s popular blog,The Write Conversation.



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