Warning: Editor Inside!

Don’t you just hate the feeling that something’s terribly wrong with exactly this paragraph, but you can’t pinpoint it? It’s the wording, and possibly the sentence length. Or is it the punctuation? By God, it’s not the words, it’s the meaning behind them! It’s not conveying the right mood, and you don’t know how the hell to fix it!

But there must be a way, absolutely. You need to try again. And again. Maybe next time it’ll be good. Maybe next week it’ll come closer. But it never does. It never does! *desperate panda*

Everyone goes a little bonkers when they edit. There’s even a separate section for editing writers in every closed ward. It’s got walls padded with rejection slips and the nurses only speak in wrong tenses.

If you’re editing the last pages of your story, it’s normal to feel like smothering cute little furry things and kicking them over the fence. You shouldn’t hear the sirens on account of that. However, if you’re only just drafting the third scene of your WIP, then you’ve crossed over to the dark side. You’re doomed, man, I’m sorry. It’s blazing hot in here, hopeless and shameful, and the cookies are a lie. A lie, I tell ya!

Just like every superhero has a nemesis, every writer has an inner editor (or critic). He’s a slightly creepy fellow, like a cross between your mother-in-law’s mother-in-law and Lemony Snicket’s Count Olaf. In his eyes, nothing you ever write is good enough, nothing you edit is good enough, you’re not good enough, so you should just stop writing alltogether. Throw that manuscript into the fire before you make a fool of yourself. No, better yet, hand over all the rights and notes and throw yourself into the fire. There.

Did I mention it was blazing hot in here?

If you want your writing to amount to anything else beside the pile of crumpled paper burning at the bottom of your stake, then you must become an awesome Overlord. Rip off the straitjacket and pull on the black sexy armor, ’cause it’s time to whip your inner editor into submission. When you’re drafting, he should be caged at your feet and begging for mercy, not tapping his index at your forehead and smirking like a wisecracker.

Drafting is not about fixing paragraphs, it’s not about looking for the right word, perfect punctuation or impeccable grammar. Drafting is about pouring out as many ideas about your story as humanly possible. Whether you write to an outline or not, drafting should be an unmitigated, uninterrupted and un-overthought avalanche of imagery.

Don’t stop to consider your wordchoice. Don’t doubt your sentences while you’re still shaping ideas into words. Don’t fiddle with your prose like an anxious schoolgirl before prom. You’re the one true Overlord, the only one ruling your story. All armies of creativity are at your command. One snap of your fingers and the whole world goes up in flame!

You can do whatever you want with your story, it’s your story. You rule! You can write whatever you want, and no one can stop you. Don’t be a jackass and stop yourself. Always write your drafts like you mean business. Write like the whole world’s queueing to stand in awe. Write like a fury and finish your draft. Finish it!

Then, and only then, should you take mercy on your inner editor and release him from his cage. He can come out an play only after you’re done. But even then, he must play nicely, like a well-behaved assistant, to your rules. You’re the damn Overlord after all, and even when you’re rewriting and the inner editor gets to have a word, you must never succumb to misery and despair because the story is always in your power and your power alone. Make the best of it and be proud of it!

 

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This blog post is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, April 2012

19 Replies to “Warning: Editor Inside!”

  1. I love the idea of my inner editor as my nemesis: that makes editing so much more high stakes! I must go questing to defeat bad grammar, but still maintain my style 🙂

    Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Jen! Imagining to kick your inner editor in the nuts before you sit down to write can totally paint a smile on your face. 😉 Have fun!

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  2. Usually, if I take step back and take a break from my work, I’m better able to see what wrong with stuff like this.

    I’m struggling more with GMC with one of my main characters. And if I don’t fix it, the whole thing just doesn’t work. Kinda freaking out with a deadline from my publisher. Yikes!

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  3. The inner editor is always the nemesis, and always the worst critic. I’ll actually be touching on some editing tactics to stymie our inner A-hole and let us have a fresh perspective on our work (even after mulling it over to death with the editing pen). Awesome blog and post. I’m subscribing, too.

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  4. How wonderfully motivating !! Inner editor – I like that (and he might even enjoy being chained up just to cause havoc upon release)

    Looks like ‘Edit’ / ‘Editing’ / ‘Editor’ are the key posts for today’s challenge !

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    1. Sometimes I feel like the spellchecker is nothing but a hairy, smelly little gremlin hiding behind my screen, pointing at me and laughing. 😛

      Thanks for the visit, Dazediva!

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  5. I think if more people knew they’d get to strap on the black sexy armour, more people would be picking up those whips and striding off for a cracking round of editing! I’ll definitely never look at editing the same way again!

    Great post, again. You’re totally rocking the A-to-Z!

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  6. Great post! I often have trouble locking up the inner editor when she needs to stay quiet, but let her out to do her job, and she doesn’t know when to quit! The best way I’ve found to quiet the IE is by writing at breakneck speed, like during NaNoWriMo.

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    1. That’s a great method to shut the little monster up, Jennifer! I think more writers should do that, they might actually enjoy it!

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