Monday, September 5, 2011

Taming the beast

If you're gonna write seriously, there's a monster you're gonna have to tame.

This horrible creature lurks in every writer's space and is itching to get under your skin. He's called Inner Editor. He shows no mercy and has an uncanny gift for spreading fear. In order to get past the barriers Inner Editor creates, you're gonna have to tame him and train him. (Or her. My Inner Editor monster happens to be a guy.)

You can't hire it done. You gotta do it yourself. Only you know his quirks and how ruthless he can be.

It's really not as hard as you think. But it does take courage. Courage is the most important weapon to acquire. Courage sedates Inner Editor and puts him into a light dream sleep. But it takes a bit more than that to tame the beast completely.

I don't know what Inner Editor does to you, but in my writing space, he taunts me even before I
open the page.

With venomous, drooling rage, he stalks around my office, steals space in my head and drowns out my inspiration: "You are stuck. You can't pull this off. You're writing drivel. Give it up. Get over it. Move on. What makes you think anyone wants to read what you have to say? Who do you think you are?"

His words have a paralyzing affect.

But if I pick up Courage and keep writing through the taunts, the doubt, the fear, I find Inner Editor backing off. He's really a lot more bark than bite, and like any bully, he backs down as long as I stand up to him.

Here are some other practical weapons I use to fight this merciless monster:

1.I put my butt in the chair and write every single day no matter how I feel, what I'm thinking, and how discouraged I am. I refuse to let Inner Editor win.

2. If I'm stuck, I write anyway. Eventually, without fail, I break through.

3. I remember that untamed, Inner Editor is a liar unless I'm the one controlling him. Once he realizes who's boss, I can bring the gentled monster out of his cage to help me with my second draft (and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth...)

4. I ignore Inner Editor in the first draft and lock him away until I'm sure he can come out and play nice.

5.I refuse to let him win and I refuse to quit. I truly believe it's not the brightest or even the greatest writers that get published. It's the most determined and persistent.

6. I stop my writing session when I'm in a good spot with enough ideas to get started next time. That way I don't freeze and listen to the taunts. Hemmingway used to stop writing when he was excited and didn't want to stop. I think that's a good idea, too.

What do you do to tame the beast? How do you turn off your inner editor?

Karla Akins is a pastor's wife, mother of five, and grandma to five beautiful little girls. She lives in North Manchester with her husband, twin teenage boys with autism, and three crazy dogs. Her favorite color is purple, favorite hobby is shoes, and favorite food group is cupcakes.

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