With NaNoWriMo mere days away, I wanted to take a moment to discuss something that holds back many writers.
Your inner editor.
You know the one. That smarmy voice in the back of your head admonishing you for every word you write because it isn’t good enough. Giving you a stern telling off when your grammar isn’t just right.
Just imagining the look you get when your character sits down twice in one paragraph is enough to make me want to delete everything and start from scratch.
Because my book has to be perfect.
But what we all need to remember is that the first draft does not need to be perfect at all.
I used to have a massive case of inner editor. I couldn’t get past a page without deleting paragraphs and rewriting them because they weren’t as good as I imagined them. I would sit there for ages with an open document and not write a word because I couldn’t think of anything good enough to write.
It’s no wonder it took me two years and one month to write my (second, let’s not talk about the first,) novel, Nephilim.
NaNoWriMo completely pushed me (with difficulty,) out of hearing range of my inner editor and taught me to just write. I’ve learned that me and my inner editor have to take turns and share. The first draft is my turn. I’m in charge and what I write, goes. The second draft (and every consequent draft after that,) is where my inner editor is allowed to go nuts.
If you’re struggling, try some of the following and see if it helps you write instead of delete.
Don’t look at what you’re writing.
Change the font colour to white or make everything really small. If you can’t see what you’ve written, your inner editor can’t complain.
Create a deadline.
Just pressure yourself. If you HAVE to write 2000 words a day, then you’ll sure to try harder to write the words instead of editing what you’ve just written. Writing apps such as Write OR Die are helpful.
Turn off spell and grammer check.
Nothing is worse than seeing those damn squiggly red lines when you’re writing. They practically scream ‘SOMETHING IS WRONG!’
Mark it for later.
If your sentence/paragraph/ description is truly that terrible, instead of fixing it, mark it for later. I double star ** anytime I can’t think of what comes next and move on. I write ELEPHANT when I can’t think of the perfect word and keep writing. Then, when it comes to revision, those areas that need attention are easily searched for.
Remind yourself you’re just building the foundations.
This is a first draft. You’re making a foundation on which to build something great. Foundations aren’t pretty when you first make them, so your first draft shouldn’t be either.
You can write a great novel. You can make your words (near) perfect. You can fix it. Just not now. Trust in your ability and remember that what you’re writing now isn’t the best you can do.
How do you overcome your inner editor? Share in the comments below.
Good thoughts and happy writing.