Kill Your Inner Editor. I’ve always thought it was a bad idea, but it really grabbed me by the throat this morning when I found a link on the NaNo site, to this article: http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2010/11/nanowrimo-writers-and-their-inner-editors/ The author proudly discusses the ugly pictures that her middle-grade students drew of their inner editors, with her encouragement.
“If you ask one of the young participants in our elementary school NaNoWriMo group what an “inner editor” is, they will tell you, “It’s the voice inside your head that says your writing stinks. It shouts, ‘You can’t write a book!’, and it shakes its finger at you, telling you your commas are all messed up and your spelling is wrong.”
“To write a complete first draft of a novel in a month, an author needs to push forward, fast and hard. There’s no time to fret over the details or mechanics of storytelling.”
I’ve wondered, every once in a while, how many people abandon their finished NaNo novels simply because they can’t stand to look at the pile of crap they created. Granted that many of them should be abandoned. Still…
I’m sorry to argue with received wisdom, but the inner editor is not your enemy, any more than your puppy is your enemy because you allow it to piss and shit all over the floor. And NaNoWriMo is not a desperate race that leaves you no time to bend over and take a deep breath.
Maybe both are true if you made a last-minute decision to join in the fun, without an idea in your head about a plot or characters. And that thought makes me wonder whether the teacher simply told her kiddies about NaNo one day and then said, “Okay, kids, start writing.” To all the people who are in NaNo just for the hell of it and know that they’re going to have to pull out a hatful of tricks to produce their 50k of crap, all I can say is “Have fun.”
For everyone else, it might help you to know that the inner editor is supposed to be an assistant, a helpmate, not a monster that swallows you and your text whole, and leaves nothing behind. Unless you’re the slowest two-finger typist in the world, and have only an hour a day to devote to writing, you can write a decent, fairly clean 50,000 word novel in thirty days — without killing yourself or your editor. People babble on about their muse this, their muse that, as if inspiration is either pouring down on them from above or being maliciously denied them. But their editor? Kick it under the rug, lock it in the closet, but never, never pay any attention to it.
Go ahead. Obey your betters. Pay no attention to your inner editor, and never, ever look back. Much better to charge into the arena like a bull wanting to nail that red flag being waved in front of its nose. Or… you can learn to make use of your inner editor. Allow it to give you breathing spaces where you can take a quick look at what you’ve done, make some corrections, and move ahead feeling as if you’re really accomplishing something you wouldn’t be ashamed to let your best friend read. Or you can charge ahead with your teeth clenched and eventually give the results to that puppy to piss on.