Monday, November 12, 2012

The Inner Editor

I'd like to start off by saying this post was inspired by all the threads I see in the NaNoWriMo forums about the Inner Editor. So for all those who have started threads, responded to threads or are wondering who this Inner Editor person is: this is for you.

The Inner Editor is the voice in the back of a writer's mind that constantly discusses plot flaws, grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes and character flatness. Some Inner Editors go so far as to tell the writer that they are no good at writing and should quit. Some won't be quiet no matter what the writer does thus leaving the writer trying to perfect the same sentence for hours.

You may think it's strange that I'm talking about the Inner Editor as if the Inner Editor is a real person. For some authors, it is. For others it may as well be. The Inner Editor for (most) writers is a constant stream of internal monologue that we cannot shut off. Now I'm not sure if EVERY writer has an Inner Editor but it looks to be the case from what I've seen in the NaNo forums. Yes, I realize this does not represent every writer. That's fine.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way I think it's fair I mention that during NaNo most people's advice is to shut off the Inner Editor. This confuses the heck out of me. Why would you want to silence something trying to help you? The response is generally: "I can't write with the Inner Editor tearing apart everything I write." or: "I won't make the 50K if I keep trying to make everything perfect." Okay, that makes sense I guess. The whole purpose of NaNo is to have fun while trying to get 50,000 words in one month.

But I ask these people: What happens when you can't EVER write anything with the Inner Editor turned on?

You see I have an issue with turning off the Inner Editor for NaNo. I think it's silly to do so. Why? Well if one wants to learn to work WITH their Inner Editor they must write WITH them. Sure NaNo is about getting a first draft. But not all first drafts have to be big piles of crud. I know, I know: BLASPHEMY! Every first draft is CRUD! Cue the pitchforks and all that. I disagree that all first drafts are crud but more on that another time.

Back to the Inner Editor: I LOVE my Inner Editor. There. I said it. I LOVE MY INNER EDITOR. Why? Because I've written enough that me and my Inner Editor have become one. I've written enough that I know what my faults and mistakes are and I don't make them as much. Yes, I'll slip up sometimes but for the most part I can stop myself.

This does not mean my writing is perfect. I'll never be perfect since my style will constantly change with the more experience I get. It DOES mean that my first drafts are more like a second or third drafts. Why? Because I've learned to work WITH my Inner Editor instead of shutting it out. Now the Inner Editor is my partner instead of someone I have to shut up so I can write without care.

People can say I've only become better because I've grown up or I've been writing more. But isn't accepting the negatives you may think about your writing a part of growing up? This would mean that learning to see and fix plot holes as you go (a job of the Inner Editor) comes with experience. This experience can only be obtained if you let it.

Practice makes perfect (or close to it). I am under the firm belief that if one writes enough with the Inner Editor one can get to the point where the Inner Editor doesn't have to be shut up. Also, writers evolve the more they write. If you shut off a part of yourself, you can't evolve. You can't get better. You won't be able to get over that road-block stopping you from making your first draft more than a pile of dribble.

I've learned a lot about myself and my writing in the past two years, more so in the last year. One of the most important things is that you SHOULD NOT force the Inner Editor to be silent. Let it free. Let it improve you. Let it better you. Work with it and become friends because at the end of the day, your Inner Editor is your writing voice.

Until next time: Good night and don't silence your Inner Editor.

1 comment:

  1. I envy you then! My Inner Editor keeps telling me "What's so important about this?" even though it's about word count than making it work although that is just as important.

    Hm. I feel a bit torn about this. :P

    Nebula Way