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relenat
05-19-2008, 11:48 PM
When you need the creative juices to flow unimpeded, what do you do to take your critical editor offline?

I used to tell my creative writing students - mostly corporate mangers who had suppressed their creative side for decades - when they were really blocked to get up in the middle of the night - 'cause their critical editor was lazy and would stay in bed. Also to let themselves write the first draft freely - no concern for grammar, logic or even sense.

Although a practiced procrastinator, I was very productive at the time and had actually never experienced writer's block for myself. (Oh, how pride does predicate a bruising fall!)

Recently my critical editor has been doing a number on me while my creative kid checks out in daydreams. But I found this odd, yet surprisingly useful tactic: write as if I know the book won't be read, and I need only write for myself.

So what do you do?

tehuti88
05-20-2008, 01:03 AM
This isn't really an answer, as I'm rather the opposite of this. I HAVE to have a sort of critical editor keeping track of logic, grammar, etc. or else I simply can't write. If I feel I've committed a serious error, everything grinds to a halt until it's fixed, and only then do the words flow again.

I noticed I was plugging along just fine on my current work until I suddenly lost all control of what was going on and I had to stop and look back on the entire series and just take notes. I should be done soon...but I haven't written on this story in over a year. *cringe* I don't know if the notes will help but in one way I'm relieved because I've caught some atrocious errors that would really affect the plot if I hadn't caught them before showing the work publicly. Sometimes I wonder if my subconscious knows of these mistakes and halts a story's progress until they're fixed. It's far easier for me to fix them sooner than later.

Granted, there are times when I'd rather do without a critical inner editor--I can't for the life of me respond to writing challenges and prompts and such where the idea is to write something immediately without planning or thinking much--but it gets me by all right with writing what I do write.

I think maybe all this might have to do with the fact that I don't really write in "drafts"--I try to make a story the best I can the first time around. So perhaps that's why I need to leave the critical editor on?

This is of course something completely different from the inner critic who just grouses that everything I write sucks...I could ALWAYS do without that.

geardrops
05-20-2008, 01:33 AM
When you need the creative juices to flow unimpeded, what do you do to take your critical editor offline?

Alcohol.

... no, seriously. A nice hot toddy or a beer will usually get that thing to go away.

relenat
05-20-2008, 09:49 PM
I HAVE to have a sort of critical editor keeping track of logic, grammar, etc. or else I simply can't write. ...I don't really write in "drafts"--I try to make a story the best I can the first time around.

That is fascinating, Tehuti. We are opposites. I pour out an initial draft, *any* draft, but then edit and re-edit and re-re-edit, relying on my critical editor who then becomes a useful tool. The work comes alive in the editing, but if I am in editing mode before getting an initial inspiration out, the whole thing fizzles.

I also carve - which is a removal process. Sometimes I think I write like a carver. I need a rough, massive, barely shaped lump and then I finesse it through removal. In contrast, your process sounds additive.


a critical inner editor...gets me by all right with writing what I do write... This is of course something completely different from the inner critic who just grouses that everything I write sucks...I could ALWAYS do without that.

O.K., you bring up an important contrast. There is the useful-for-editing critical editor and the totally silencing, irrationally nasty, inner critic. The first has its role in the work - for me later, for you earlier. The second we all have and must somehow circumvent, ignore, declaw, etc. or we wouldn't write at all.

I think maybe I was lumping the two in my initial post. And in fact they do seem to be twins - the nasty one slinking in under cover of the useful one.


I should be done soon...but I haven't written on this story in over a year. *cringe*

In fact, I was wondering if something like that was happening for you here.

So there are two questions:

How do you keep your useful, critical editor out when it is not useful?

How do you shut-up your never-useful, nasty, inner critic?

inkkognito
05-20-2008, 10:26 PM
I write at the times when my inner editor is "sleeping." At night, the creative side is much more dominant so I tend to write during those hours.

Kalyke
05-20-2008, 11:17 PM
I must say that I am the opposite. I am prone to error. Several times I've posted that I've written 7 novels, all unfinished. I've probably written more like 15, truthfully, all abandoned at page 150 or 100 about. I think that I could not finish them because I allowed myself too much freedom. I did not stick with a story. I personally think that creativity is born with craft. I am a sculptor and also a fine art print artist. My entire artistic life has been led with the understanding that whatever I do is dictated by the constraints of my materials. My material in this case is the invisible thing called "the story."

Within the constraints of the story, I have some freedom of movement, but not an unlimited supply. Certain things MUST happen in order for a logical sequence to occur. I must write with the reader at heart if I don't want to be tossed aside. I want to become a professional writer, not a creativity lecturer.

I do think that writing without boundaries, without an internal editor is valuable at the brainstorming phase and also to try out new things, but I would not shut off my internal editor.

I wonder if you mean internal critic: the "I'm no good/ will never get anywhere" land lord of self loathing and doubt.

If I wrote as though I would never be read-- uh-oh, it would mean a mess.

I think that any craft like this comes freely at the point where you have internalized all the rules, and have perfected your technique to the point where your internal editor works on its own anyway. You might be listening to the inner critic, but I think the inner editor is probably still at work.

Mr Flibble
05-20-2008, 11:27 PM
I write at the times when my inner editor is "sleeping." At night, the creative side is much more dominant so I tend to write during those hours.

I do that, in a way. I'm borderline bipolar, so I have short 'manic' episodes where I can become fixed on one thing. As long as I make sure it's my writing, I can zooooooooooooooooooom through a first draft with all sorts of wild ideas and that inner editor is saying do it, do it, everything you are writing is fantastic, add extra exploding turnips! When it tips to the depressive state, ( inner editor says everything I do is crap)I write very little and read a lot. Then I have a week or two of 'normal' (or as normal as I ever get) which is fantastic for reining in those wild fancies and making them coherent.

Soccer Mom
05-20-2008, 11:37 PM
I give myself permission to write crap. I tie up that editor and lock him in the closet until the first draft is done. If I didn't, I would never finish anything.

Once I finish, I let him out and apologize. Then I give him a snack and order him to start fixing the rough draft. I'm usually pleasantly surprised that the draft ISN'T crap. My drafts always need a lot of work, but if you don't write it--there is nothing to edit.

HeronW
05-20-2008, 11:44 PM
>tie up that editor
So we don't need to wonder if SoccerMom's into bondage anymore :}

Sometimes I reread what I wrote (last ch. or so) before writing new stuff so I get the internal editor all in a dither over old stuff while I sneak in new stuff.

tehuti88
05-21-2008, 12:31 AM
In fact, I was wondering if something like that was happening for you here.

So there are two questions:

How do you keep your useful, critical editor out when it is not useful?

How do you shut-up your never-useful, nasty, inner critic?

I think that possibly what happened to derail my writing was I didn't listen enough to the inner editor and take notes as I should have, and just lost track! *blush* Keeping track of details in my writing is something I've never been attentive to, and I think perhaps the inner editor got fed up and halted the work before I could muss it up too terribly. It might be just me though. *LOL* I do know that once in the past when my writing just stopped, I looked back and found a bad error, corrected it, and then the writing resumed easily.

I'm afraid I haven't a clue how to keep out the useful inner editor when it's not useful, because so far, I've always found it useful--EXCEPT in terms of reading other people's writing. There is where I find it incredibly annoying. When I start spotting grammar errors and misspellings and such, it just niggles at me so badly that I can't read another word. On the one hand, I fully believe that more people need to master the basics of writing better before showing off their work, but on the other hand, many people post this work so that others can help them with such errors, and I get far too flustered to be of use. I was not always so nitpicky, so something happened over time; I have no idea what.

As for the nasty inner critic, I would love to shut that off! I have yet to figure out how. I guess just loving to write, period, helps sometimes.

tehuti88
05-21-2008, 12:36 AM
I think that any craft like this comes freely at the point where you have internalized all the rules, and have perfected your technique to the point where your internal editor works on its own anyway. You might be listening to the inner critic, but I think the inner editor is probably still at work.

I find this point very intriguing. I've become so used to the basic "rules" of writing (as I see them at least) that the inner editor usually doesn't even feel like an editor, it's just the way I do things when I write--a natural process. Granted, there ARE times when I have to stop and puzzle over a word choice or some such, but it still feels just like part of the natural process of things.

ishtar'sgate
05-21-2008, 04:12 AM
When you need the creative juices to flow unimpeded, what do you do to take your critical editor offline?

I don't take my critical editor offline. I want the stinker sitting on my shoulder at all times. For me, creativity isn't stifled by my editor, it's enhanced.
Linnea

relenat
05-21-2008, 09:29 PM
How fascinating that productive writers can work in quite different, even exactly opposite, ways. What facilitates my work might stymie yours and vice versa.


I give myself permission to write crap. I tie up that editor and lock him in the closet until the first draft is done. If I didn't, I would never finish anything.

Once I finish, I let him out and apologize. Then I give him a snack and order him to start fixing the rough draft.

I'm just like you, Soccer Mom. I need her out of the way to get a first draft out - and it is fine if it is rough to the point of being crap - 'though it rarely is crap. Then, I let her free on that draft and she carries my writing to whatever heights it is capable of reaching.

Sometimes, I get myself started by editing yesterday's rough writing... Only that is dangerous 'cause my editor could happily bang away at the old stuff forever and never let me do any new, rough writing.

My present agreement is, "Two hours of new writing first and then I am all yours."