Turning Off Your Inner Editor

I shouldn't mock Wymore so much. James Wymore is a swell guy. Just ask him.

In response to my last post, someone mentioned that their problem with writer's block isn't not wanting to write, it's turning off their internal editor.

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of how-to information on turning off your internal editor. It's just something you have to do. I can give you some general advice, however.

Know your limits, and learn where your slippery slope lies. While I don't typically go back and edit sentences while I'm writing (I expect to edit them when preparing my submission for Writers' Group), I know that if I do go back, I won't get sucked in. Not everyone can say that. I know people that if they start editing a paragraph, they won't get any more writing done that day, they will go down a proverbial rabbit hole of editing.

I suspect some people can't even let themselves correct basic spelling errors. So know your limitations. Understand where that slippery slope starts.

And it's worth mentioning another motivator here. Deadlines.

I've mentioned it before, but my Writer's Group is every Thursday night and it's the Dark and Hungry God That Must Be Fed. The offshoot of that is that when I sit down to write, my goal is to hit wordcount. Editing can come later. I write a thousand words every 40 minutes when writing drama (an hour and a half when writing comedy.) I usually write before bed, so if I don't hit that word count in the allotted time, I don't get to sleep. Editing can come later.

And that brings me to something Tim Powers says at Writer's of the Futures. First drafts are supposed to be terrible. If your first draft isn't terrible, you've done it wrong. Seriously. If you write a good first draft, you've failed. As a writer. Failed. As a writer. Taste the failure. You're writing failure.

As I said, I can't tell you how to turn off that editor, all I can do is tell you ways to incentivise yourself to turn off that editor. Now, get to writing. Badly.

Chop chop.