Margo Dill, author of Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg, spoke last week at the monthly meeting of Saturday Writers, a chapter of the Missouri Writer’s Guild. She explained the 6 + 1 traits of writing: voice, organization, sentence fluency, ideas, word choice, conventions + publication. Although she only spoke for a little more than an hour, she offered practical advice everyone could use immediately.
She covered each of these topics effectively, but I want to talk about one of them because of the responses she got from the audience. While discussing voice, she and several members of the audience commented on our internal editors. It’s a universal problem that can negatively impact anyone’s writing.
Margo said when she is stuck and her internal editor is stopping her from moving forward, she writes journal entries as the character she has created. This gives her insight into the character, and perhaps a way to write her character or plot out of a problem. This creative release may lead to becoming unstuck.
Audience member Anthony Clark said he often writes emails to himself. He said there is something about writing an email that is less intimidating than opening an official Word document, so the pressure is off. Plus, he said he has never lost one of these emails.
I brought up a tip I read about turning off the computer monitor. Turning off the monitor prevents your internal editor from being able to read what you just wrote and criticize it. You just keep writing because there is no visual cue that can be judged and evaluated.
Other writers mentioned rituals they use to get into the “writing state of mind” to quiet those tenacious internal editors. Lighting candles, arranging work spaces “just so,” and any other ritual like drinking coffee from a particular mug or wearing a lucky writing shirt may help prepare you to enter your “writing zone.”
Last February I wrote about my inner critic. You can’t fight what you can’t see, so I imagined a person who does nothing but watch game shows and smoke cigarettes. My enemy has a name, and it’s Lucille. By naming her, and being able to “see” her in my head, I am less intimidated by her negativity. She’s a mess, and doesn’t want me to succeed because SHE doesn’t want to do the work to succeed. Why would I listen to her? That mental trick is effective, somehow.
Which mental tricks do you use to quiet your internal editor.