Turning off the inner editor

Photo by Sebastian Ervi on Pexels.com

I am a terrible editor, which could be really sad since I currently make part of my living as an editor. What I mean, however, is that my inner editor cannot SHUT UP when I’m trying to write. It’s a little like having a hard rock band playing in the background when you’re trying to compose an easy listening song.

Because of this quality (something I’ve always considered a flaw) I write very slowly. Every word is carefully selected, considered, debated, and massaged before and after it goes on the page. It’s a challenge to get through a 50K word novel when each word is written 2-3 times.

Lately, however, my inner editor is quieter. I wish I could tell you the secret if this is a challenge you experience but I can’t. The only thing I can imagine is that my inner editor is tired. I spend so much time trying to find the right words for other people that it’s either easier for me to find the for myself or I realize that no word will ever be perfect and I can’t fix what doesn’t exist yet.

Continuity is another challenge I find when writing as slowly as I do. A decision I make for my character or story in chapter one could be forgotten or obsolete by chapters five or fifteen. I’ve started marking important milestones or decisions, even character descriptions, with highlights or comments in the margins, rather than go back and try to align all these decisions every time I make one.

For instance, I’m currently working on book 3 in my Hearts of Louisiana series, Love and Miss Fortune. There’s a case of mistaken identity early in the book that can play into my plot regardless of whether I reveal the mistake early or let it play out longer. I started the book going in one direction but now I’m thinking about switching it up. Rather than make a decision and go back and re-edit everything, I marked the change and am trying to keep writing. So far, so good. I’m averaging 750 words an hour at the moment.

Another tool I’ve found to help keep me focused and shut down that inner editor is FocusMate. It’s a one-to-one sprint, if you’re familiar with that concept. Two people meet and the object is to set a goal and use the accountability of the forum to meet your goal by the end of the session. I love it! There’s a free limited plan so try it out if you need help keeping your fingers on the keyboard.

Whatever has changed in my brain, I’m appreciative to the muses and deities of creativity and I’m going to ride this snowball on down the hill to the words THE END!

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