Monday, March 17, 2014

Smackdown With Your Inner Editor

By Debbie Maxwell Allen

photo credit: Debbie Allen

Do you wrestle with your inner editor? Do your eyes wander over the last paragraph you wrote, unable to rest until you've eliminated the little red squigglies under each word? Do you find it easier to spend your precious writing time analyzing previous pages than writing new words?

It's time for a smackdown.

Your creative side loves to explore new worlds and uncharted territory. Your analytical side wants to fix everything and make it logical. Unfortunately, to do both at the same time makes for a double-minded writer.

You may very well be polishing your manuscript in anticipation of pitching at the next Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Here are some resources to motivate your red pen--so you can get back to writing.

I've gathered a great crop of resources from other writers who have tackled this issue. They haven't solved it, but some of their advice might be exactly what you need to try to keep your editor at bay--at least until your manuscript is finished and it's time to let him or her out from exile.

One thing I do when my inner editor won't keep quiet is to write in the dark. Yes, it's messy, but effective. Computer users can also choose a font color that matches your screen color so your words will be invisible, or dim your screen to black. Don't forget to save, though! If you have a desktop with a wireless keyboard, move across the room from your screen. Here are some more tips:

Mandy Houk, member of Pikes Peak Writers, shares a great visual for writers to understand what the inner editor does to our confidence.

Cassie Mae, at The Writer's Dojo, gives four practical tips for shutting off the inner editor. I really like her color idea.

Tina Radcliffe over at Seekerville, wowed me with her unauthorized cheat sheet of self-editing tips. I'll be using tip #4 to create my own 'weasel words' list.

The NaNoWriMo blog has a post on A 7-Step Guide to Big Picture Revision (With Bonus Checklists!). I love using highlighters to help me visualize what's missing--or overdone.

Check out the Three Stages of Editing (and nine handy do-it-yourself tips) to whip your manuscript into shape.

And finally, Entrepreneur offers a list of ten words to cut from your writing. Super fast and easy fixes to get your manuscript into shape.

Have you found anything useful for keeping your inner editor locked up? Or is yours particularly well-behaved?

About the Author: Debbie Maxwell Allen writes young adult historical fantasy in the Rocky Mountains. She blogs about free resources for writers at Writing While the Rice Boils


  1. Thanks for these great links and suggestions, Debbie! It is always a difficulty for me. . .

  2. Great tips, Debbie. I definitely try to wear two hats at one time. I"m struggling with a short story right now for this very reason. Thanks for the reminder that editing needs to take place on its own time!


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