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Old 12-14-2004, 05:57 AM   #1
pepperlandgirl
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My Internal Editor won't shut up and leave me alone...

During the school year, when I'm working and going to school full time, I just don't get any writing done. It's a sad fact of life, but I'm come to accept it. I think it's because the 3 billion academic papers kill my creativity. Anywho, school is all but over (still got finals) and my Muse has returned, with a vengeance.

I started a story on Wednesday night. I worked on it off and on Thurs-Sunday. I have 13,000 words. I'm very happy to be writing again, and I love my story. It's always on my mind...except...welll, it's always on my mind because that little voice that hates everything won't shut up.

It's a historical fiction...I'm just writing about some folks who I find interesting and who I imagine doing interesting things. But the little voice keeps saying "That's not what HE would have said." "That's not when THAT happened." "Your facts are wrong, you suck." "That physical description is wrong." "What about their reputations? You're ruining it!" to which I respond "They've been dead for 200 years! Nobody cares anymore!"

Apparently Mr. Internal Editor cares, because he won't leave me in peace. I know I can't be the only one around her plagued by self-doubts and constant criticisms. What do you do about it? How do you ignore it? Have you ever just stopped a project because you can't work in peace?
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Old 12-14-2004, 06:13 AM   #2
James D Macdonald
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Re: My Internal Editor won't shut up and leave me alone...

Making your internal editor (the saboteur self) shut up and go away is one of the hardest parts of this business.

Promise her that you'll let her do her thing when you're writing the second draft. Other than that, just write. Give yourself permission to write things that "aren't what HE would have said," just to get the words on the page.

You can't make a vase if you don't have the lump of clay to start with.
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Old 12-14-2004, 06:27 AM   #3
maestrowork
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Re: My Internal Editor won't shut up and leave me alone...

One thing that helps me (and trust me, my internal editor SCREAMS with a vengence) is that whenever he screams, I'll put a note in the draft that says something like: "Yeah, yeah, the protagonist won't say something like that... fix in next draft" -- it helps me achieve the following:

1) move on!!!!!
2) acknowledge Mr. Editor so he doesn't get all pissy
3) remind myself what to change and where
4) allow the writer in me make the changes as I write (plot shifts, new character development, etc.)
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Old 12-14-2004, 07:03 AM   #4
drgnlvrljh
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Re: My Internal Editor won't shut up and leave me alone...

I usually threaten mine with severe chocolate deprivation. That tends to shut her up.
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Old 12-14-2004, 07:35 AM   #5
Gala
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shut him up, but good

I use all kinds of methods to shut up my whining, bitching, jerk of an editor.

The most fun is to write a nasty note, or even a bit of dialogue in which I either tell him to f off and go bother someone else (yeah, it's all my fault), or write a few lines of violence scene in which he dies a horrible death.

He appears when you're close to something good. The good may be the writing itself, or an honest message, or you stretching past the wall.

In a pinch I say a few choice words I won't repeat but amount to "leave me alone."

Sometimes the internal ed. appears disguised as a fairy godmother or a genie from a bottle offering three wishes. Anything to distract. The answer is, "I'll get back to you later on that."

I've made stories based on experience with the internal editor. He hates it his wiles enhance the work.

p.s. I work and live in a somewhat isolated situation hence some days internal ed. may be the only entity I converse with outside the wip. ymmv.
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Old 12-14-2004, 09:10 AM   #6
novelator
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Re: shut him up, but good

If you offer your internal editor equal, but separate time, I'm sure a deal can be a struck. Consider this internal negotiation as preparation for all those external deals you'll be negotiating after the three of you learn to work together.

Talk to your Ego and Self Esteem. I'm sure they're being far too quiet if this internal editor is allowed to run its mouth at will. Perhaps the internal editor is in league with Doubt. Quit feeding your Doubt and you'll weaken the ornery internal editor.

My muse got together with my Ego and Self Esteem and upon killing Doubt, forced my internal editor to a compromise. Now, we're all working together for a common cause--me.

Mari
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Old 12-14-2004, 09:41 AM   #7
vstrauss
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Re: My Internal Editor won't shut up and leave me alone...

In the YMMV category...for me, the only thing that mutes (because she never will entirely shut up) the Internal Editor is editing. If I try to push forward without satisfying her, she will shout so loud I can't do anything at all.

Me, neurotic? Nah.

- Victoria
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Old 12-14-2004, 11:22 AM   #8
pepperlandgirl
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doubt

Perhaps the internal editor is in league with Doubt. Quit feeding your Doubt and you'll weaken the ornery internal editor.


I think you are spot-on with this. I have never, ever tried to write historical fiction, especially about real people. Honestly a part of me feels like that territory is verboten. But oh, I love writing it, and I got that feeling...you know the one...the one where every thought and every spare moment is consumed with the project...and the characters are actually beginning to have lives and conversations and you sound a little crazy when you talk about it.

I am going to take the suggestion to make a note while I'm writing this draft on the parts that need editing. I'll use the handy-dandy "insert comment" function...Maybe that will buy me a few minutes of peace...
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Old 12-14-2004, 04:04 PM   #9
pencilone
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Re: doubt

The way I make the Internal Editor to shut up is to write as fast as I can. I try not to make choices for what is happening or what the characters are saying or doing, I just try not to think about what is next, but let myself with the flow.

I try not to think but live the moment as my characters do. I have noticed that I can accomplish this best by setting a kitchen timer to 30 minutes and then, no matter what, I just write as fast as I can for those 30 minutes.

Ray Bradbury in 'Zen and the Art of Writing' is a good read from this point of view: do not think, write.
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Old 12-14-2004, 09:30 PM   #10
Jamesaritchie
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Re: doubt

I generally have no problems with my internal editor talking when I'm working. Or maybe I do, and listen to him in advance, which is more likely.

But on those rare occasions when my internal editor throws up a big stop sign, I just make a note in the manuscript at that point and move on. It seems to satisfy all concerned.
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Old 12-14-2004, 11:59 PM   #11
katdad
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Re: My Internal Editor won't shut up and leave me alone...

I think it's good that your internal editor keeps nagging. Keeps you on your toes.
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Old 12-15-2004, 12:46 AM   #12
Jamesaritchie
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Re: shut him up, but good

Quote:
Perhaps the internal editor is in league with Doubt. Quit feeding your Doubt and you'll weaken the ornery internal editor.
Very good point. I like that.
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Old 12-15-2004, 01:17 AM   #13
Stlight
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Re: shut him up, but good

Having spent more than a reasonable amount of time in school, if you aren't careful it can become an expensive hobby, I remember something similar happening to me. What I discovered was that my mind was still focused on the academic mode, I was trying to turn a novel into a term paper. I was taking every word much too seriously for the first draft.

The cure? In my case it was simply a matter of being out of school for a couple of months and reading a huge number of novels. Remember the stuff you read for school is informative, full of delightful facts which tempted you to read more facts and the whole process tends to make you a bit of a teacher. (Bit of a teacher means, Wow, I've found this wonderful fact and won't the average reader want to know it? Of course he/she will. Sadly, average reader isn't really interested whether windows were put in London prisons in 1750 or 1752.)

All I'm saying is that you are shifting out of one mode into another and, for some of us, it takes a little time. The other thing, which I found and find helpful is to remember that no draft is the final draft until I decide it is. This means until the final draft, the mss doesn't have to be perfect and that is a freeing thought.

Stlight
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Old 12-15-2004, 03:03 AM   #14
pepperlandgirl
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academic point

Wow, Stlight, that's so obvious that it didn't even occur to me. I'm treating my story as though it was an essay that I planned to turn in to my most demanding Lit professor.

And of course, I'm not turning it into my Lit professor at all.

*takes a deep breath* I just finished a final in a lit class and the internal editor is very important there. Probably I've had it "on" full volume for the past two weeks to get me through term papers and projects and finals and everything else...And it probably doesn't help that I was inspired by a lit course to start this story...

Sometimes I wonder if non-writers stumble across these boards and wonder if we really have mental problems...
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Old 12-15-2004, 04:31 AM   #15
Stlight
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Re: academic point

Pepperlandgirl, as Carl Jung would say, the creative force is born in the shadow portion of the individual's mind. It is the dark and mysterious and not completely sane part that we carry around everyday. Kinda makes you glad to have a socially acceptable place to let that part act, doesn't it.

And, yep, non-writers may well think that we are a little odd. The trick is the not minding. :rollin

Oh, not getting involved with a discussion with your characters in public is helpful in keeping the appearance of normal going.

Stlight
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Old 12-15-2004, 07:31 AM   #16
drgnlvrljh
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Re: academic point

Quote:
Oh, not getting involved with a discussion with your characters in public is helpful in keeping the appearance of normal going.
Is THAT why those guys in the white coats keep following me? :eek
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Old 12-15-2004, 01:06 PM   #17
Writing Again
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Re: academic point

I figure if people don't like me when I'm crazy they won't like me when I'm sane either.
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Old 12-15-2004, 11:57 PM   #18
maestrowork
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Re: academic point

It's okay... you can always pretend that you're speaking on the cell phone (with a headphone).

People do that ALL the time around me. I thought I was surrounded by crazies.

Until I spoke to my character while having a latte with myself.

Now who is the crazy?
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Old 12-16-2004, 04:19 AM   #19
pepperlandgirl
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re: academic point

I actually work out arguments between characters outloud, because I want to know how the words themselves sound. I try to only do this at home, try being the operative word.

The last novel I finished, the characters did nothing but fight...
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