Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Care and Feeding of your Internal Editor

The internal editor. That nagging little voice that tags along the creative process like an annoying little brother. "Not now," you say, in your best big sister voice. "You can play later." But he isn't patient and he hates when you try to put him off.

There have been times when I've caved in to the whining and let the internal editor hang out with my creative voice. Often, it's led to stilted, limited work with really excellent grammar and punctuation that even said editor isn't happy with in the end.

I try to let the editor have something to play with off to the side of the work at hand. If he finds continuity errors between something in the new writing and something from chapter three, I'll let him smirk and mark it down *in a separate document.* I'll even let him peer over my shoulder and correct an errant comma or choose a stronger verb on the fly. And every word written is an implied promise to the internal editor: This is your sandbox. In a little while, you will get to play.

Sometimes, my creative voice gets cranky or jealous and she sulks, unable to focus on the task at hand. She doesn't like the internal editor hanging around with her friends. She wants the work-in-progress for herself. That's when I pull out my variation of the 'time out' corner--the kitchen timer. I set it for 30 minutes, get the critic to agree to go out and walk the dog or go to the park so the creative voice can get her writing done in relative peace and quiet. If it's only a half hour, the critic doesn't get so whiny.

It's like managing siblings. They each have their talents and strengths and they each need to know they have your love and attention.

How do you see the internal editor?

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