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Silencing Your Internal Editor

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Black Dragon, Sep 26, 2011.

  1. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    The best way for me to finish a book is to keep pressing ahead, and to save editing for later in the process. This is the principle behind NaNoWriMo month, if I'm correct.

    But my damn internal editor won't shut up and let me write. It keeps urging me to go back and make things better.

    How do you silence your internal editor?
  2. Johnny Cosmo

    Johnny Cosmo Inkling

    I really struggle with this, in anything that I write. I end up editing after every paragraph sometimes. I'm trying to push ahead with some stuff at the moment though, but every now and again I'll forget and start tinkering.
  3. Nano, there is no way to finish nano till you stuff that editor (all of them) in a box and tell them to shut up. I couldn't pump out more than 500 to 1k words a day until i stuffed them away....then I could get a lot written.
  4. pskelding

    pskelding Troubadour

    Makes notes as you go along writing so you can go back and fix things during your first rewrite. 1st drafts always suck the whole point of them is to get all your story out and onto the screen/paper. Also by the end of the story you will have a much better handle on the characters and their voice.

    I suspend the editor until "edit mode" and don't let him come out. Sometimes I threaten him with no beer if he tries to edit during the 1st draft. That usually works!
  5. Leuco

    Leuco Troubadour

    I wish my internal editor was louder! I only say that because I've learned a lot from my first novel. I've made many rookie mistakes. Now I'm much more critical of my own work. And more patient!
  6. EParadise

    EParadise Scribe

    My internal editors point of view is this... I can stop at the end of each chapter and rework this until I am fairly satisfied, or I can wait 'til the whole thing is done and then it's another big daunting task. Smaller chunks win every time. I don't consider the chapter by chapter a full new draft, just a way to change a few bits and pieces now that that chunk is done, while its all still fresh in my mind. The editing isn't what has kept me from forging on in the past. It has been utter laziness...the I don't really feel like it right now, maybe later attitude. For that reason I have never finished any of my big projects. This time though its different. I won't allow laziness to control me. I stick to my strict schedule as if it was my day job. If I can't get past the laziness and start making it "work" then it will never BE my day job, which is what I want more than everything.
  7. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    I smothered him with a pillow in his sleep years ago.
  8. Amanita

    Amanita Maester

    When writing fiction, this isn't really an issue for me. If there's a story in my mind, I'm getting it on paper rather quickly, if I start. For this, I sometimes need some sort of motivation. ;)
    Sometimes I do try to correct smaller issues during writing, but most of the time, I get it done. The actual editing is the problem, though. When I'm finished I usually don't like the stuff I've written at all anymore and believe that it can't be saved and I have to start all over again. Not a very efficient method.
    The word-count in NaNo isn't a problem for me though, if the motivation is there. For just getting 2000 words written without editing, I usually need an hour or two, a reasonable amount of time to spend on writing per day, if I'm not extremely busy with other stuff. It is quite possible that the German language uses more words to say the same thing though, I've never really compared this.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
  9. The only real answer for this for me was practice. I didn't make real progress on my novel (in terms of words per day or week) until I finally just let it go and sometimes even had to look away from the screen as a typed.
  10. I think there's two basic kinds of editing: form, and content.

    Form editing (that is, word choice, dialogue, sentence/paragraph structure) can (and should) wait until the very end, because that's when you chop down and refine your prose to make it tight, and have good flow.

    Content editing (that is, story elements) can, and should, be done during any draft. If your first pass of chapter 5 makes chapter 1 nonsensical, you now need to go back and rewrite chapter 1. You don't have to do it right away; in fact it might be better to finish the whole draft, and then go back and start rewriting each chapter with your new, comprehensive understanding of the story and the world. On each pass, you refine story elements until you get your final story.

    But doing form editing before your content phase is done is usually a waste of time. Why spend hours making the prose in a chapter beautiful, if you might (and probably will) have to throw it all away later? You're going to get plenty of practice at form editing. Form editing is the easy part. Content editing is the hard part.

    As for my personal process... I prefer to work out a basic story idea, and then start writing it. Every few chapters I go back and flesh out the storyline some more. Sometimes I then have to go back and completely rewrite earlier chapters to make them fit in with the new story structure, or some new story element I've worked out.

    And on top of this, I always rewrite every chapter from scratch at least once. One piece of writing advice I heard years ago was to write each scene from scratch multiple times. Sometimes they'll veer off in unexpected directions and give you interesting story points that you can use. Sometimes entire versions will be unusable or pointless or stupid, but at least then you've learned what doesn't work. It's very time-consuming to do this, because you're essentially writing multiple entire novels' worth of words, but only one of them survives to the end. However, when you've got a lot more material to choose from, you'll end up with a better final product.
  11. CicadaGrrl

    CicadaGrrl Troubadour

    A fifth of tequila helps. No, seriously. Read Anne Lamott's Bird By Bird. I would pay particular attention to "Writing Shitty First Drafts" and "Bird by Bird". You could just read these two chapters to start with if you are short on time. I use them a lot in my classes when I am introducing first drafts. The idea is to write, and know it is shit, because it is a first draft and it almost always is. Accept it is shit. When your editor says, this is shit. Answer, yes. I know. I am accepting it is shit. I listen to you and answer you, yes. It is shit. I will look at it later. For now I will move on. Bird by bird is just a metaphor for taking it in bite sized chunks.
  12. Mistresselysia

    Mistresselysia Scribe

    I struggle with my internal editor to a ridiculous degree - to the point where I get paralysed and forget how to contruct basic sentences without re-writing them 10 times over. I agonised for months over the first 5 chapters of my novel, and then something in me snapped; I knew they only way I was going to get the damn thing written was to grab that little b**tard by the neck and lock him up somewhere. So I sat myself down, accepted that my first draft was going to be terrible, and gave myself permission to write badly. Whenever I found myself toying with the keys to the box (so to speak!), I said (out loud, so everyone around me now thinks I am even more bonkers than previously suspected) 'You can fix this later. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. Just keep writing'. I even made a stupid wallpaper for my laptop with that damned Dory fish from Finding Nemo with it written on, so whenever I started to doubt, I would look at it and carry on!

    I then set myself a word goal of 10,000 words a week - and in 7 weeks, had completed an 84,000 word novel. And the weirdest thing? Once I got into the swing of things and started to enjoy writing for writing's sake, rather than worry about it being any good, my writing actually got better. I am having to edit / rip the stuffing out of my earlier chapters, but on the whole, my later chapters are much easier to read and are far easier to revise. So, I suppose the ironic thing is the less I cared, the better I wrote.

    Still, I've got a long way to go and a lot to revise (currently on the 4th rewrite of chapter 2... *sighs*). I'm finding that harder - switching between Hard Cow Editor Where All Adverbs Must DIE!!! and Whimsical Creative Writer Where Everything Goes to get scenes re-written / added in is hard work.
  13. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

    ROFL I have done that! Well not tequil but most def grabbed the wine coolers (lightweight) snuckered writting is really really funny to read at a later (sober) date! :p
    Some of it was even worth keeping... go figure.

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