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Write Away: Banish Your Inner Editor

As the regular readers of this blog know, I’m in the middle of NaNoWriMo, where I am attempting to write 50k words in 30 days. The only way to accomplish this feat is to write tons of words each day. That means turning off the inner editor and just writing.

Anyone who writes knows that this is easier said than done. Here are tips to sneak words past your pesky inner editor.

*Write longhand. This may seem like a slower way to go, but for some writers the act of putting pen to paper makes the words flow faster and smoother than pecking away at the keyboard. The advantage to going this way is you automatically avoid the pitfalls the next two tips in this post address. On the downside, you have to take extra time to type your words into the computer later.

*Pretend your backspace and delete keys are broken.
Skip revising until revision time. If you simply cannot help yourself and MUST change something right this very minute, leave the original and just type the revised form. You can delete the original later. Ignore the urge to purge those words. If you stop typing you lose your forward momentum and have to get into the groove all over again.

*Look forward, not back. The prior tip applies to correcting typos, spelling and grammar errors, too. Save it until the initial writing is done.

This is my toughest challenge. I will catch myself typing something stupid like “hear” for “here” (why do we do that, anyway?) or I’ll type a word that looks like a cat hijacked my keyboard. The inclination is to fix, fix, fix it RIGHT NOW. Eyes forward, folks. Force yourself to keep going.

*Use a timer.
You may notice that this is not the first time I have given this advice. It works. I have a digital kitchen timer that I will set for an interval (10, 30, 60, etc. minutes) then I give myself the goal of writing a specific number of words before the timer sounds. There’s something about racing the clock that makes it easier to tune out the inner editor.

*Try homicide.
Yes, this is a drastic last resort, but if your inner editor refuses to shut up and let the writer work, you’ll just have to kill her. Every time she tries to make you change something, insert a parenthetical phrase about snuffing her and go along your merry way.  (Frex: Just stabbed my editor in the neck with sharpened flash drive.)  Of course, given the zombie nature of most inner editors, you’ll likely need to kill yours more than once. Persevere in your efforts. Not only will it keep you writing, it can prove to be quite amusing.

How do you quiet your inner editor?

For today, I’d encourage each of you, even if you aren’t part of the NaNo madness, to write with abandon. Write anything your heart desires, just point yourself in a direction and let the words flow. No rules, just write.
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