Monday, November 10, 2014

Nanowrimo Blog 2-- Locking up the editor

Hello again!

It’s the end of week 2 of Nanowrimo (or beginning of week 3, depending on if you are a “half-full” or “half-empty” kind of person). If you are “on track,” you are probably around the 25,000 word point in your writing. If you are trying to write a complete story arc in 30 days (which is only one way to do Nano), you are at, are approaching, or have past the story midpoint.

Wherever you are, congratulations! The second week is when it gets hard. The story building is done, and now characters have to do stuff. Your writing will probably slow down because you are now thinking and making decisions about where the story needs to go, etc. 

You will be very, very tempted to go back and edit.

Don’t do it!

One key to completing this challenge is to lock up the editor inside your head. One reason is impetus, that forward momentum you’ve built up. You need to write forward, with the assumption that you will go back and change the things that need changing later. I keep a file of To Do’s for revision (mostly because I can NEVER remember my character’s eye color).

Here are some other reasons to lock up your editor:

Reason 1—Editing is done during REVISION, not CREATION.
It can wait, no matter what she says.

I imagine my editor as me in a librarian-style getup. Pencils stuck in her hair, glasses, hair in a bun. She’s that girl in the Looong Jacket that Cake sings about. I love her, but…

My muse hates her. My muse is a hippie-chick in a flowy, guazy gown. She comes to the party late, but laughs the whole time she’s there. I love her, but as soon as the editor steps into the room, my creative muse slips out the back door.

I need them both, but I can’t have them both at the same time. So, during Nano or any time I’m writing a first draft, the Editor has to go.

Reason 2—the Editor often erodes our self-esteem.
We need all of that we can get to complete this challenge.

Most of the beginning writers I know have episodes of staring at the computer screen or blank page while their inner editor berates them.

This is the most wretched crap you’ve ever written. Who is going to care about this? No one! OMG, did you actually just write a sentence? That was terrible. Why don’t you just give up now and take nice nap?


I need every shred of self-esteem to write my nut every day. I have to convince myself that the hours I spend on these words make a difference…at least to myself. I have to lock the editor up so that I will write instead of nap. A nap does sound good, though. 

The thing is, many times, my editor is right. However, I can’t create and edit at the same time. I need to make a shapeless pile of mud so that I can carve out something beautiful. I need to make crap. Then it’s her job to help me make it lovely. Until then, she needs to shut up.

How to silence the editor.

These may seem tongue-in-cheek, but visualizing something like this can really help.

Imagine locking her up in a cage and shoving a filing cabinet in front of it
Imagine sending her on vacation.
Acknowledge that she’s right, mark the thing in question, and MOVE ON.

Oh, you need a narrative example? Okay:

Writer #1 agonizes over one sentence for 15 minutes while she’s working on a first draft. Eventually, she finds the right wording, and moves on to the next two sentences, which only take her 15 minutes to compose. She completes 100 words in 30 minutes.

Writer #2 notices a couple errors as she’s typing, so she types “XX” nearby so she can search for the spot later. She writes at a rate of 1,000 words an hour. She completes 500 words in 30 minutes.

Notice which writer is more productive.
Guess which writer has higher writing self-esteem?

Keep going, Wrimos. You are half way there. You can do it.

The tips come from Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. The examples are mostly mine.

Feel like sharing this? Here’s a quote you could post:

“Locking up the editor:  Editing is done during REVISION, not CREATION. It can wait, no matter what she says.”

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