Your Internal Editor: Friend or Foe?

So we’re almost at the halfway point for NaNoWriMo. Sadly, I am nowhere near the word count I should be at right now (25,000).

Part of the problem stems from my schedule, which doesn’t always allow for consistent writing opportunities. But, really, that’s just a lame excuse for procrastination and writing with my internal editor turned on. This is the literary equivalent of city driving: constant starts, stops, and reverses as you hit intersections, speed bumps, animals, and maybe the occasional pedestrian.

I kid, of course. You don’t hit intersections, you pass through them.

Writing with it turned off is largely the same, only here you don’t stop to check what you’ve hit. Sometimes you don’t even look in the mirror. You get to the end of your destination really fast, but you might have to do a lot of damage control by the time you’re done.

You would think that in the end, both would net you the same amount of work. Unfortunately, each approach just leads you to two different types of problems. For the former, slaving yourself to your internal editor means constantly dealing with self-doubt as it berates you for every typo and second-guesses every character or plotline. It’s constant pressure to please yourself, and anyone who looks at themselves in the mirror in the morning knows how hard that is to do. As a result, (at least for myself) some projects go unfinished, maligned by the internal editor and ordered to the back of the queue while other, more interesting projects jump to the fore.

As for the latter, you might end up with a book so full of errors, inconsistencies, and bad writing that it might be just better to toss it and write the book again. Or write a totally different book.

So what’ll it be? Fix now? Or fix later?

I know what my Editor always says: Now now nownowgoddammitdon’twriteanothersentenceuntilyoufixthattypoNOW!

On the one hand, when I finish my book I’d like it to be as perfect as possible with little revision. On the other, I’d like to finish the book PERIOD.

I keep telling my Editor to take a vacation. It’s NaNoWriMo, take a day off. Take a month! But the workaholic just keeps wandering back into the office, hovering over my shoulder and telling me I should really, really reconsider that scene with the giraffe and the vacuum cleaner.

Sigh. Yes, boss. Right away, boss.


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