Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Kicking out the Internal Editor

Current Project:Status: Approximately 72,000 words

Most Recent Read: Allan Dean Foster, Icerigger

Current Read: ADF's Mission to Moulokin. It is so old and fragile that I've been carrying it around in a protective bag, to keep it from falling further apart.

Planned Next Read: ADF's The Deluge Drivers (finish out the series) All three books are in my personal library.

I am an early morning writer, by which I mean my strongest, most creative writing occurs when the house is still silent, my brain is not yet filled with the challenges of the day, and the birds can be heard welcoming the sunrise. I love sipping a cup of tea, lighting a small tealight candle and watching the sky over the fir trees slowly lighten to a pale gray, shift to a light rose, then burst into a multi-hued palette of colors.
(Photo courtesy of http://freefoto.com/)

My current writing project, Ghost Girl, is 72,000 words strong in its first draft stage. This is the first book I have written. Although not my first attempt. I have many, many false starts saved to disc and handwritten in notebooks. The closest I have ever come to this word count is 88 pages.

You know that pesky Internal Editor? The one that creeps into your thoughts and says, 'Who do you think you are, thinking you can write? This is trash, and any self-respecting author will laugh if you dare show it to anyone!'

Yeah, you know the one. Well, I got mad at my Internal Editor. And I slammed the door in its face. Basically, I told it, "Who do think YOU are, trying to corrupt my lifelong dreams and goals of being a published author? NOONE can tell me I am unable to succeed at something - especially YOU!"

Now, this doesn't completely keep the Internal Editor from cracking the door and sniffing the air, testing my resolve to ignore it. But everytime I feel its presence sneaking up over my shoulder, I shove it back out the door and firmly lock it out. Because you know what? That rude, bellicose Internal Editor is nothing more than my Self Doubt. Which means it is really ME ruining my desire to be a published author. And Momma is not buying.

So, yes, I am going strong with my first draft of my first full-length book. I don't expect the book to be perfect - there is so much to learn while perfecting my writing skills. But in compensation there is also the thrill of learning and applying those skills to my work in progress.

I tell my fellow MWVRWA members that I view this as a 'training wheels' book. Of course I am giving it my best (which for me means 125%, plus) , but I recognize that as a first attempt there is a lot of learning involved. But this time, with this book, the door is slammed on the Internal Editor. I know that when this book is completed, when even the first draft is completed, I will be a much stronger writer than when I started. I can already see the difference, from the beginning of the rough draft to where I am now, building up to the final climax, and the strong improvements made. I can hardly wait to read the end!

So my question to you is, how do you close the door on your Internal Editor? Is it a monster in the closet? Or an insidious internal voice trying to disguise itself as a friend? How do you kick it out?


Paty Jager said...

Dawn, Kudos to you to keep on writing and pushing to finish a book.

I don't have an internal editor other than after the number of books I've written I tend to mentally fix things that I used to have to fix on the second and third draft.

What you're talking about as an internal editor is doubts. And I guess I'm just naive enough I never had doubts I wouldn't get published. I've always been a worker and grew up being taught if you put over 100% into something it will happen. I worked hard on craft and dug deep to make memorable characters and didn't have a problem letting others read my work so I could learn what I needed to make my stories better.

I think most writers who don't get published is because they don't have the courage to let others see their work and give them guidance. You can go to every workshop and read every book on writing, but until you put words to paper and get creative input, you can't believe in your work strong enough to make others believe in it.

That's just my opinion.

Genene Valleau said...

Dawn, congratulations on making such great progress on your current book!

I agree with both you and Paty that an Internal Editor can be doubts--that was definitely the case in my earlier writing years.

However, similar to Paty's experience, my internal editor has morphed and is now my friend. In the early stages of a story, she can be mollified by making notes of what I need to do in the manuscript. As I get closer to a final version of a story, I know if she's nudging me that I need to take a look at my story to see if something isn't quite right or to see where I need to dig deeper.

Sarah Raplee said...

I'm seldom plagued by doubts, although the last six months life has gotten in the way of my writing to the point that I didn't make much progress, and that scared me. Doubt reared its ugly head for a little while. But now I'm back on the horse and rarin' to go! Thanks for sharing, Chris. I'm so excited for you to be so close to a completed manuscript!

Sarah Raplee said...

OOPS! I forgot to say, that's a wonderful title!

Deborah Wright said...

Dawn, great work on keeping going, pushing to get to the end! I understand what you mean by needing to shut down that pesky old Internal Editor. My internal editor is a combination of doubt and fear--and is able to rear its ugly head at any time, but especially at the start of a project. My strategy this time is to remind myself that I just need to get words down on the page--it doesn't matter if they're any good--because I can't edit what I haven't written. Seems to be doing the trick, so far!

Dawn D. Young said...

Paty and Genene,

I understand what you mean, when you talk about making your Internal Editor work for you and help you keep the book on track with fewer fixes in second and third drafts. I have spoken with other published authors, and they all say the same thing - the more books they have written, the closer to a finished product there first draft is. I look forward to getting to that stage!


Thank-you for the kind words of encouragement! Keep up with the writing! And even if the words don't seem to fit, put them down. You learn more the more you write, and noone rides a bike perfectly the first time they pedal. Thanks for liking the title!


Keep on writing! Don't be a Rolling Editor. There's plenty of time for that when you reach The End.

Thanks everyone! Have a productive writing week!