Silencing the “Editor Within”
SILENCING THE “EDITOR WITHIN”
One of the most difficult parts of writing – even if you write all day, every day – is learning to ignore your internal editor when you’re working on a first draft.
Even now, as I start writing, I can hear the nagging voice of doubt that makes it difficult to put words on paper. My particular voice of doubt looks a bit like my ninth-grade English teacher: She’s got a sour expression on her face, and she’s wearing necklace made of little wooden apples. She knows everything. She hates experimentation. She stands behind me, reading over my shoulder and shaking her head. She makes little noises of disapproval as I work; the tap of my fingers on the keys punctuated every so often with notes of discouragement:
“Oh, you can do better than that, can’t you?”
“Well. That’s not very interesting, is it?”
“I just don’t get it.”
Writing, well, isn’t always easy. Fighting the urge to engage in too much self-editing is even harder. There’s nothing wrong with having high standards. But, if you fret too much about getting it right the first time, you’ll wind up with a migraine and a blank page.
Maybe your first draft is dreadful. So what? Throw it away, hit the “delete” key, bury it in the backyard in a shallow grave – whatever makes you feel better. And keep going. Experiment a little. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
You’ll have plenty of time to revise and let your internal editor go crazy after you’ve gotten your ideas written down. But, when you’re trying to write a first draft, you have to ignore her and concentrate on what you’re trying to say and how you’re trying to say it. You can’t grow as a writer until you learn to stop worrying about perfection.
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