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