Free yourself from your internal editor: Thursday’s writing tip

Letting go of the internal editor

Editing and drafting is a vital part of writing; very often the final version of a creative work has only fragments of the first draft!  But knowing this can also block the writing process.

Sometimes when we write, we are very conscious of the process of writing.  We want to paint a picture with our words, we want to develop characters, plot and so on.  But we can’t find the right metaphor or begin and then develop the plot in the right way.   We want to write perfectly first time!

In many ways, our internal editor is a limiting factor, especially in the early stages of writing.

Some of the best first drafts come very suddenly and are written without the internal editor.   You may have a character, or even just a word in your mind when you start.  Or your may just want to write and find that inspiration is a distant memory.

A writing exercise that I have found useful in the past is writing for 15 minutes without editing, stopping or rereading.  I do not look back at what I am writing and I do not let the pen stop moving on the page or the keys hesitate beneath my fingers.   Actually, sometimes, working on paper is better for this as a pen flows more fluidly than a keyboard, however fast you type!

It is important, too, that you do not worry too much about spelling, punctuation or grammar during this time.  It just slows you down!

Write constantly and write quickly and see what comes from that!

What to do if you feel stuck during your 15 minutes?

One way of ‘getting back’ into the flow if you begin to hesitate is to repeat the last word over and over until something moves.  Your mission is to keep writing – remember, you are not writing the next literary work; you are doing an exercise to help your writing!

It may also help for you to know that the work you do will not be seen by anybody but you.  Sometimes, it can pressurise you to think that all writing is for a reading audience.  The work from the exercise is not.  Something may come from it in the future, but this work is just for you!

Happy writing!

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