The Inner Editor vs the Writer

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    you know, I think I’ve decided that I don’t have an inner editor and that’s why i never edit anything.

    Cassandra Reine
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    My Inner Editor takes many forms…

    Inadequacy. This usually comes at times between writing, when I’m doing other things; reading or talking about writing or browsing for new books. In fact, I was hit by this just the other day, stood in the middle of Waterstones’ sci-fi/fantasy/horror/contemporary urban sections with the little Inner Editor whispering in my ear, “You’re never going to be this good. You’re never going to be on these shelves with people asking ‘Do you have any Reine?’ You might as well give up now; you’re never going to get there.”

    “Really? That’s what you want to say?” This comes often during the writing itself. I’ll write a sentence or a line of dialogue or even an entire scene and the little Inner Editor voice will raise its ugly head and inform me that the message coming across is not the message I intended to send at all and I should therefore go back, delete the entire thing and start over.

    “How are you going to feel when people you know read this? Do you really want your mother/father/brothers/best friend/third-cousin’s-cat-sitter’s-boyfriend’s-brother reading this?” This one usually comes during sex scenes and sometimes during particularly violent scenes.

    “Is this really necessary to the story or are you desperately trying to pad?” This tends to come on re-reading a scene or chapter.

    So, for me, I find that most often my Inner Editor is at its most dangerous when I’m not actually in the midst of the writing itself. If I can sit down and just… Make one word follow another, I tend to be okay, it’s only when I look back or allow myself time to think that I find myself in trouble, which is awkward if I’ve had to leave writing a scene for sleep/food/the mailman. I’m much safer remaining in my own little world, whatever that may be at the time.

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    Personally, I prefer to differentiate between the Inner Editor and the Inner Critic. I’ve struggled with perfectionism almost my whole life (not sure exactly when it started), so I have huge problems here, particularly with things that are, surprisingly, not writing.

    Incidentally, it is my Inner Editor that allows me so much power over my Inner Critic in writing. My Inner Editor reminds me of the crucial thing: I can change it. It’s not over, written in stone. With so many of my other areas, once it’s over, I can’t change it, and that’s why I get so miserable when I get critiqued in other areas of my life. It’s over, and all I can do is hope I’ll do better next time, but I can’t fix what I already did. With writing, it’s different. I can fix it. That’s probably the key to my difficulty in finishing a revision, though, because if I’m going to be published, eventually there will come a point at which I have to say it’s “good enough.” I’m really scared of that.

    Letting in my editor in my 2005 NaNo was what allowed me to win. Following the traditional advice of ignoring her in 2004 is the reason I’ve never returned to that story.

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