Silencing Your Inner Editor

Writing Excuses recently challenged the standard newbie writing advice that you should "silence your inner editor" while writing. Instead, Mary advised that you need only silence your "inner heckler," while harnessing your "inner editor" to tell you when you need to improve your writing.

Personally I think Mary completely missed the mark on this one. (And I got the sense that Brandon wasn’t on board either.) The "inner editor" as I’ve understood it is not so much a heckler as it is someone who is obsessed with good grammar and who is terrified of making a mistake. Such a person will constantly revise and re-revise and re-re-revise every sentence before moving on to the next one. Listening to this editor will result in never finishing a book or never thinking it’s good enough to release. This is not the kind of thing you want to think about, particularly when you’re writing a first draft.

Even in Mary’s sense of the "inner editor"–that voice that seeks to improve your work–that voice literally always see things to fix and improve. There is never a time in any creative process when you can stop and say, "That’s perfect. It can never be improved." There is always a way to tweak and improve any creative work. If you ever want to finish a work, you have to pick a time to just walk away. Ie. you have to silence your inner editor. At least I do.

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