Writing Tips: 5 Ways to Overrule Your Inner Editor 2

HAVE YOU EVER had a great story idea and started writing, only to get stuck editing the first page over and over? Maybe you were even writing in your private journal and found yourself editing your writing, though no one but you would ever read it. If you have an active inner editor and critic, here are some quick tips to help you get him or her to chill out for a while.

  1. Schedule separate writing and editing sessions. The creative process uses different parts of your brain than the linear processes of analyzing and editing. If your inner editor knows that she’ll get her turn, she’s less likely to interrupt your creative time.
  2. Set a timer. Write without stopping until the timer goes off. If you’re just starting this process of separating your inner editor from your creative process, set the timer for just 10 or 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, put your writing away and don’t look at it until your scheduled editing session.
  3. When you are in the middle of a writing session, do not look back. Don’t review what you’ve already written. Do not correct spelling, punctuation, or reread the previous sentence. The key is to keep the ideas and writing flowing. Remember that it’s not only okay to write junk, it’s imperative! (That’s where the jewels tend to hide.) And it’s so much easier to just let yourself write when you don’t worry about the quality. When you’re tempted to review, just remind yourself that you’ve set aside a special time to do so and now is not it.
  4. Put space between writing and editing. In your scheduled editing sessions, work on passages you wrote yesterday or the week before, never what you wrote today. Avoid over-sensitivity and subjectivity by putting a space of time between what you wrote and your review of it.
  5. When you edit, pretend that you are your ideal reader. Make up a profile of a person who you would love to read your story and then pretend to be that person (upwardly mobile businessman, mom of two toddlers, sports enthusiast, woman entering retirement, etc). This little bit of internal subterfuge will help you get some distance and objectivity with which to work.

Follow these tips, and you’ll find that you allow yourself to be creative in new ways, your inner editor/critic will wait patiently, and your writing will improve. You might even finish that story you started so long ago!


Photo by Laura Ritchie

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