Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Kicking Your Inner Editor to the Curb by Erin Howard

Everyone approaches writing differently. Whether you plot every detail out or you write as it comes to you, you still have one thing in common. The pesky internal editor. When I first started writing, I didn’t realize this was something I needed to watch out for. I didn’t know that it likes to wait for the right opportunity and rear its ugly head. If I was having a rough day, then all of a sudden, I could only see all the parts of the story I didn’t like. No word count was added, no new words on the page, but I altered and changed everything about the scene and guess what? The next day was the same, and the next. I wasn’t getting anywhere in my story. I was frustrated and took a big break from writing.

One day, I heard another author talking about this very issue, except they said they never edit as they write the rough draft. Whatever comes out in that writing session stays in the document until the whole story is finished. I decided to give it a whirl. I still had half of a novel to finish. At first, it was difficult, almost torture, to tell my perfectionist self not to edit. It was so hard to keep plowing through the story and let myself off the hook.

It got more comfortable over time, and I realized it didn’t matter if it was awful. It didn’t matter if I stumbled around the scene and didn’t quite show enough emotions or use all the senses at that moment. All that mattered was getting the words down on the screen and completing the book.

When I finished the rough draft, I think I actually cried. I did it. I finished a novel! After I celebrated, I got started on the next phase. Editing. I love this phase of writing. I love the quote from Jodi Picoult, “You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” Get the story down. Lay the foundation, and then get to work making it shine. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first go around. Let yourself off the hook and
write.


~~~~~~ 


Erin R. Howard is a developmental editor, fantasy author of The Kalila Chronicles, and has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. When she's not writing, Erin enjoys spending time with her family, fueling her craft addictions, and teaching writing workshops. Erin is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the KenTen Writers Group. She resides in Western Kentucky with her husband and three children.

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The Soul Searcher (The Kalila Chronicles, #2) - Release Date: 2/19/19

Elnora’s parents gave her one rule:


Stay hidden away at all costs.
Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her.
When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat.



15 comments:

  1. Erin, I hear ya! It's so hard for me, especially as an English teacher, not to edit myself. However, I teach a lesson with play-doh in my English Comp 1 class that gives me perspective. I read through a script about "creating" as my students make a pencil holder with play-doh. Once they have a draft in progress, I tell them to smash it up and start again on a new design. (Lots of groans!) We go through this a few times before I let them choose their final design and actually finish the pencil holder. Throughout the script, I remind them they are creating, coming up with ideas, experimenting, etc. They are not critiquing (or editing) their design yet. One side of the brain creates; the other side of the brain critiques. I tell them not to let the critic interfere with their creative process. Once their product is created, we begin editing (smoothing creases, adding little details, etc.). I really like the effectiveness of using this metaphor for writing with my students, and it's a good reminder for me as an author to just create!

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  2. Great advice, Erin!
    So many authors I know have commented that the editing is their favorite part of the writing process.
    I guess I'm an exception, because I LOVE the first draft of writing---the creating and getting to know my characters. :) I will confess, however, that my current project has had some frustrating moments, thanks to my characters changing their minds about things after scenes were written. ;) I guess they were doing what Karen Sargent mentioned in her comment above --they were experimenting!
    Thanks for sharing with us today.
    Blessings, Patti Jo

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    1. I love it when they change their minds! Sometimes that all the creative boost you need. ☺️

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  3. Oh, I understand! It takes discipline to turn off the inner editor, but once you do, it's possible to become so much more productive. I'm like you - I enjoy the editing phase!

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    1. Yes, it took me a while to get comfortable with this at first. Now, I love it!

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  4. Great suggestion! That was the only way I could draft a novel when I first started out. Just let ‘er rip! It’s the best way to do it, and it’s so much easier to stay in each character’s POV when writing scenes using this method. It's also encouraging to get a novel drafted within a month or six weeks.

    And then I got sick. I now have a chronic illness. I was no longer physically able to let the novel have its way with me. But, praise God, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could draft in a more structured and patient way. It took longer (over a year). It didn’t knock me flat. But I could do it. I miss the freewheeling drafting days, but there is room for all methods, I now know. Thanks be to God!

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    1. Yes, all methods are great, and there's no wrong way! What a testimony of adapting and changing due to circumstances you can't control and not giving up! ❤️

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  5. I can appreciate the pain and suffering of just getting something down. (What if someone else read this mess?!) But what you quoted is true, "You can't edit a blank page." I would add to that... "The way to edit a blank page is to put words on it." See how I worked in an edit there? :)

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  6. I really wish I could write this way. I feel lost if I need to stop for a even a minute, then don't go back and reread (and edit) what I previously wrote.

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    1. You have to do whatever works for you the best!

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  7. Editing is my least favorite part of writing. I feel guilty for saying that! lol

    That said I still have trouble turning the internal editor off.

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    1. Don't feel guilty! Everyone likes different parts of the writing process. =)

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