Firing the inner editor

Ok, I confess. I need to walk the talk. I listen to the inner editor.

As a former teacher, I would tell my writing students to get all of their ideas down on paper first. Tell the story and then go back, re-read and revise as necessary. I would tell them to keep going, and then edit, but I failed to warn them about the inner editor.

He’s the one inside your head who makes you go back and read the sentence you just wrote. He says, “Something’s not right. Try again.” Once you follow his counsel, however, it sets other words in motion and the whole paragraph requires change in order to realign your thoughts. This rewriting takes time and prevents you from completing your article, chapter or whatever piece you’re working on. It can become a vicious cycle.

I’d like to fire the inner editor and send him packing. In fact, I’ve done that several times, but he must sneak in the back door because before I realize it, he’s returned and set up housekeeping … again. My head knows that polished sentences will come during the editing process and can be readjusted as necessary, but the inner editor too often drowns out that logic.

One thing that helps is having some accountability. When length of the piece is an issue or a nebulous deadline exists, reporting to a trusted friend (especially one who has known the inner editor) makes a difference.

If you’ve done battle with the inner editor, tell me how you won the war.

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