Back when I first joined my local RWA chapter, there were a few published authors in the group, but the majority of us were still unpublished. Because there were so many of us newbie writers, a big emphasis within the group was on teaching. We critiqued, we talked about craft, we did workshops, and we had some topnotch teachers. In my case, I'm thinking the lessons may have taken deeper root than was necessary or intended. From that time forward, I turned into an obsessive nit-picker, nearly crippled by my internal editor. There, I said it.
Do I feel better? No, I don't. I've known this was a problem for quite a long time but can't seem to fix it. It's finally come to this--I'm chasing my own tail and getting nowhere. You might be surprised if I told you how many manuscripts I have in progress, and I keep getting more ideas all the time. But none of them are getting written. I'm determined to change that. I must change.
Here's what my friend and fellow writer, Taryn Raye, had to say about turning off her internal editor.
"Write like your life depends on it and throw caution to the wind. I try to do that each time I start a new manuscript. I duct tape and gag my internal editor and toss her in the closet. I've joked about it - that I slip a little bread and water under the door because I'll need her later when I'm done, but when I'm writing, I try to shut her out to the best of my ability."
To my knowledge, (correct me if I'm wrong, Taryn) she's written nine full-length manuscripts in a relatively short period of time. Nine! So, her method is--evidently--successful.
When I went looking on the net for information, I found several articles about turning off the internal editor. Most of them are repeats of each other. But there was one paragraph, and two lines in particular, on Daily Writing Tips that really struck home.
"When you edit your first draft, you'll have all sorts of ideas of what to change. But when you write your first draft, you want to turn off the internal editor in your mind, that super-ego that looks over your shoulder and criticizes everything you do. Editing is different from writing. Most people can't successfully do both at the same time. And when you do your first draft, you need to focus on writing."
Well, that pretty much says it. I know what I need to do. The problem is summoning the willpower to do it. My biggest fear is ending up with a 400-page mess. That I.E. is one powerful little varmint when she takes hold, and she gets stronger with time.
Three or four years ago, I tried something that I've never since repeated. I wrote what I referred to as a Bare Bones Book in a Day. I remember posting about it to the KYRW loop and suggesting others try it. I sat down and wrote the bare skeleton, including notes to myself, of a book from beginning to end in a day's time. If I remember correctly, I ended up with 18 or so pages. But the entire scene by scene sequence of the story was there on the pages. I've never done that since, but I imagine turning off the editor is essentially the same concept --just write whatever comes to you to work through the story and get to the end. Am I correct, or am I missing something important?
I'm going to try this with my work in progress. All comments and/or suggestions are encouraged and very welcome, so let me hear it. How do you ignore your I.E. and just get on with it? Or... do you also have a real problem with the little varmint?