Screw the Muse; It’s the Internal Editor I Worry About

In which I talk about the struggle between getting it right and just getting it done. The story is there; it’s the writing of it that’s hard (Well, that’s a no brainer).

Not only am I the world’s worst typist (You have learned about my penchant for hyperbole, right?), I tend to be anal about grammar, punctuation, etc. So turning off that internal editor just to get words on the page is one of the most exhausting elements of novel process that I go through. I want to correct as the symbols, letters and words, hit the page. It’s excruciating to let the mistakes lie and move onto the next thing for me. But without that haranguing voice echoing through my brain, I can write with more feeling, with more freedom. That bitch’s voice telling us the writing is no good, error-laden, and pointless, freezes the product. Only when you ignore the urge to go back and edit every sentence will you get past that first sentence, that first paragraph, that first chapter.

My current WIP, chicken scratches and all.
My current WIP, chicken scratches and all.

Not all of us work in the same manner. Some of us are final draft writers. Every word we put on the paper is perfect. But we’ve already done a lot of the prep work ahead of time. We’ve outlined, plotted, planned, and meditated to make that draft possible. Some of us are first draft writers. We don’t care what we put on the paper; we can always go back and revise later.  I fall somewhere in between and drift from one extreme to the other and visit the entire scale along the way. In any case, that internal editor can keep us from producing anything. If the bitch is telling us that we’re not good enough, we can freeze up and never produce a sentence. And that’s what we’re aiming for: producing sentence after sentence until we have a book.

I wrestle with my internal editor daily. Only after I lock her in a cage can I get to work and produce my stories. She struggles to pick the lock every time, but if I just get lost in the story, I can keep her there. I’m happy to let her out when it’s revision time. Then I can use her input, but until then, she needs to disappear. I still can’t let myself just write anything on the page–I stop to find the right term, the proper historical reference, etc.–but I’m getting better.  When I hand write, I can just circle a word I don’t like, put a check mark over it and leave it. I’m not so good when I type directly onto the computer.

And there’s always that little voice that tells me I’m not good enough. If I could learn how to shut her up, I’d be a much happier writer. I’ve heard she never goes away. The bitch.


Books I’m reading now:

Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens by JK Rowling

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