The Challenge of your Inner Editor
With that said, no matter if you're a planner, a pants-er, or plants-er, there are hazards. One of them is the challenge of your inner editor. How 'bout we hear any definitions, do you guys know what an inner editor is, maybe online too? People have a lot of different definitions of what this is, it's largely personal.
I'd say it's the inner editor is that one who's questioning, "Is everything I just wrote worth to keep going?" Kind of thing and, "Should I go back and edit it "before I keep going?"
Yeah. Or even building on that, is it good? Or possibly even telling you it's not good. Sometimes that's good, right, to know it's not good, to work on it and sometimes it can be a harsh voice, it can tell you your a crappy writer. Why are you doing this? I think that's the worst form of an inner editor. Any other examples?
Writing something down and realizing, "Did I put the commas in the right place?" "Was that even a right word to use?"
Yeah, you can get hung up on little tiny thi...
ngs. That's good, but there is a stage of writing for that. That's the copy editing stage is to really focus on that. I'm speaking mainly about the rough draft stage and that's when you want to really explore your imagination, not get hung on whether it's the right word or whether you've used the semicolon right. Everyone has an inner editor, it tends to be this crazy demanding figure and takes many different forms. For me, it's a choreographer. I'm a horribly unlimber person, I was not even limber as a kid. I was just everything was stiff. When I think of a choreographer telling me to, I don't even know the terms, plie, stand on my toes, do a pirouette, I know that I'm gonna get critiqued so much that I will not enjoy dancing and I might just give up dancing forever. Except if maybe it's something I wanna do. I wanna get that inner editor outta my head. We've talked about how to compare as your prose to other writers, that is so damning. The thing about our favorite writers is that we don't get to see their rough drafts. Their rough drafts look more like our rough drafts than we know. The thing is that they revise them like 3, 4, 5 times, maybe 10 times. They have professional editors look at them before we get to read them. That's why they look so good. Their first draft is probably more like our first draft than it is like their final book. Your inner editor is basically a collection of all your fears and insecurities as a writer. I think we all have them, we have to acknowledge that. Have people ever heard of the term "creativity wound"? No? I think most of us, when we're creative, you make yourself vulnerable to the world and when you make yourself vulnerable to the world, you're likely to hear some negative comment at some point. That can be really debilitating. When I was getting my MFA, I stayed an extra semester just to take a class. They had a guest professor for one special class and she was one of my favorite authors. I stayed just to take her class. It was the worst decision I ended up making as a writer. Her critiques, she did this to more than me as I later found out, but she would write things like, "No shit" in the margins. "Horribly". There's a rule getting feedback that you wanna assume best intentions. She didn't have any good intentions with her comments. I was deeply wounded, as most writers would be. I shut down creatively, it's the only time I've shut down creatively in my life. I mentioned this just because I think it's some strange rite of passage of being a writer. Most people will have a moment like that, it's very unfortunate because I think if you're teaching people, there's a delicacy that you have to observe and you should want to help them. This is an inner editor that, in our young writers program, we have kids draw an inner editor before they start writing their novel. Then, the ideas they draw it and they wad it up and throw it away, they banish it. The thing I like about this one is that it has multiple arms. It's attacking from different directions. It's attacking that dictionary that you mentioned, the rules of writing, you're not following the rules of writing. It's attacking with an eraser. You gotta erase this, not move forward. It's got all these legs so it can move in a lot of different directions and come from different angles. Your inner editor is your enemy, especially in that first draft, because it can't be an inhibitor. But, that inner editor, because the inner editor wants your prose to be so great it's gonna keep coming back, it's like a monster in a horror movie. They never quite die. Unlike a monster though, inner editors to have things to give to you, you just have to come up with a strategy. This first one's really important. Recognize the difference between perfectionism and healthy striving. This is something I lifted from this researcher, Bernae Brown who's given a couple really famous TED talks that I would recommend watching on vulnerability and shame. The things that I like this is that she says perfectionism is other focused. It's like, "How can I please others?" I think that's the bad inner editor. When you're trying to please other people, then you're writing for what they expect and you're probably shutting yourself down. If you're thinking about judgements on your writing, you're not gonna be as vulnerable, you're not gonna go as deep, your gonna think about the embarrassment you might feel, whereas healthy striving is all about self improvement and how you can get better. If you're thinking about how can I get better on the page, what is healthy striving? It will lead you deeper into your story, instead of inhibiting you. Having an inner editor, it's good to sit down and have a strategy talk with your inner editor. Think about ways you can, when is a good moment to have your inner editor come in? I like to have my inner editor come in after the rough draft. Think about the tone of voice you might wanna listen to. For your example, I would say, "I want my inner editor "not to compare my work "unfavorably to other published writers, "I want a more constructive feedback from my inner editor." Also, there's a time to chase wild ideas over the hills and dales of your imagination. There's a time to refine things. You just have to decide when it's a good opportunity to really invite that editor in. If you find the right time, your editor will really help you.
So many things conspire to keep you from achieving your goals as a writer. Self-doubt, lack of discipline, time management, writer’s block, creative solitude, fear of rejection…the list goes on and on.
But just because you’ve been struggling with one or more of these challenges doesn’t mean you have to abandon your creative goals and give up your dreams. Instead, take this class and learn to surmount the obstacles that prevent you from making writing a priority in your life.
Grant Faulkner, executive director of National Novel Writing Month and author of “Pep Talks for Writers: 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo,” will show you ways to banish your inner editor, dive into your work with creative abandon, write boldly on the page and develop your self-confidence.
In this class, you’ll learn how to:
- Set an audacious goal and a deadline.
- Track your daily progress.
- Connect with others in a creative community.
- Write what you love, not what you should.
- Find and nourish your muse.
- Use writing games and challenges to overcome writer’s block.
- Deal with feedback and rejection.
- Achieve writing mastery.