Through the power of WordPress I “met” another blogger over the past couple of weeks. We’ve had quite the dialogue via comments. I was sharing with her that I’m suffering through a severe bout of writer’s block. On some level I feel like it’s been going on for months, if not years. I explained that my biggest problem these days is my internal editor. I can’t shut it up. I open one of my works in progress, look at where I’m at, and simply cannot figure out how to write the next words in a way that satisfies me, my internal editor. So, I write hardly anything on those works in progress. Stories that are really important to me, that I want desperately to finish. And maybe that’s the other part of the problem.
I told her that I have never really been one of those writers who can just spew words out, thousands at a time. It just hasn’t been how I write for quite a long time. She suggested that I spew anyway. To try it and see what happens. So, today I’ve spewed my way to almost 2,000 words added to The Irrepairable Past. The story is now at about 31,000 words. I’ve made some progress. Am I blissfully happy with those new words? No, but they at least lay the foundation for improvement as I work through the rest of the telling of the story.
Thank you new blogging friend! My internal editor needed to be kicked in the ass, told to shut up, to crawl back into the hole where it belongs. When the story is done he/she/it can make a reappearance, but not before then.
You can edit something written, but you can’t edit a blank page. (I don’t know who said that…probably someone important who has written a lot.) Congratulations.
Yes, but editing my own work is not my strong suit. Hate it.
I’ve become a fan of spewing. Like you, I never used to. I had to constantly edit and try to perfect. But in doing so, I took forever to finish a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, whatever. Now I get it out and clean it up later which is the part of the process I most enjoy anyway.
I’m somewhere in between spewing and having to make sure every word and sentence is perfect. I think my biggest issue with spewing is being afraid that I’ll miss something. The details of my stories come to me as I write. If I go too fast, I might zip right by something that could make the story better.
For me it’s the opposite. If I stop and think about it too long, I’ll shut off the flow of ideas.
I’m constantly thinking about what I’m writing. In fact, last night I woke up in the middle of the night and thought about a couple of lines I want to write on The Irrepairable Past. I thought I should get up and write them down. I didn’t and now I’ve forgotten those lines.
Ah, yes, I know that situation well.
Your new friend is write, Mark. Editing is for after the writing, not during it. Let your soul go, throw the words out there, let them live – they aren’t always perfect, how could they be? But they’re yours and they’re direct from your imagination. Later, you can come back and clean them up.
I don’t know, is writing like kids? You have little control over what they come out as, and succeedingly less control of them over time, but you still love them and you temper them as best you can.
If writing was like kids, I’d be a screaming loon by now. 🙂
I don’t do well editing my own work so I consider it important to try to get things as right as possible on the first draft.
I’ve learned to love editing as much as writing, but writing for me is separate somehow. Don’t know if that makes sense. But I just go for it on the first try, and if the editing process can drag some semblance of story out of the mess, so be it. If not, well, also so be it.
Sometimes I wonder if we’re all talking about the same kind of editing. Maybe I’ll write a post about it.
I think editing is an intensely internalized function. I’m sure it means relatively different things to different people.
Love it! I have the kids draw a picture of their internal editor and then hide the picture until it is time to edit/revise. They get a kick out of it, but I think the symbolism is important. Sometimes you just have to get words out.
I think I’m going to have to do that. That could be very powerful.
They draw the funniest pictures. It is amazing to see who they think that voice is on their shoulders telling them not to write. Some are monsters, some are mean versions of themselves.
I already know … Mine is a mean version of myself with the most degrading and negative comments about my writing in thought bubbles. This is actually a great idea. A chance for me to pour a little creativity into my nemesis.
I think you should draw and post! I always made one with them on the Elmo (fancy version of an overhead projector…). Mine was much like yours, a mean version of myself with nasty things to say.
That’s my plan. I’ve been trying to come up with a reason to paint or use my colored pencils. Now I have one. And I’ll post. Thank you!
I look forward to the results!
Sigh … well, now my internal art critic has shown up. 😉 I have this idea, but it will take more drawing skills than I’ve ever had before. This is going to take awhile, but it’s a good project for me — a diversion from writing for a bit.
Haha glad it’s a welcome diversion!
awwww, hahaha that’s awesome! ; )
thanks for that, and you’re welcome my blogging friend.
I can totally relate to this! I started a novel that I really want to finish, but find myself not even opening the document because in my mind I have no idea what direction I want to take. Maybe, I just need to open it and start writing whether it’s exactly where I want to go or not. Thank you for sharing this!
Boy, do I know how this feels. During July, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo and set a goal of 30,000 words by month’s end. The only way to reach this goal was to silence the internal editor, and I discovered I could do it. Don’t worry about missing something, as you wrote in the comments above. Stories deepen with each revision. If you missed something with one draft, you can add it with the next. That internal editor is the worst — it can paralyze you and keep you from finishing anything! Just keep on doing what you’re doing!
It’s because of the internal editor that I’ve given up on doing any more NaNoWriMos. It simply is not something that works for me. As for revisions — that’s part of the prob for me. I’m not a fan of editing and rewriting, so that’s not something I can necessarily count on.
That’s rough. In the end you have to do what works best for you.
This is true. But I do think I need to try to make some progress on my novels in progress by turning the internal editor off and accepting that means more revision and editing at a later date. I’m working on it.
Nobody writes a good first draft. Nobody – not even the novel greats. Rewriting (and rewriting, and rewriting) is part of the process. It’s daunting, but with each draft, a story gets better. Maybe part of your journey as a writer must be accepting that rewrites are inevitable. Perhaps it’s also the key to turning off the internal editor, for good.
Maybe. I should try it with one of my stories. Write it. Then sit down and really, really, really, think hard about how it could be better. Good idea.
Congratulations! I know it was really hard for me to beat my inner editor. The only way I could manage was to physically write with pen and paper. My editor will be allowed to come out when I take my story to the computer.
Writing with pen and paper is one of the things I’ve tried lately. Hasn’t worked out so well, but I am making so and steady progress on Northville Part Two. Officially passed the 6,000 word mark. I’ve written about 1,000 words on it each of the last few weekends. So, I’m starting to break out, but it’s not quite as much as I’d like to be getting done each week. At this rate, it will take me forever to get it done. 🙂
Wow! Keep spewing. You never know what will come up and out.
I’ve been going through something similar. I end up deleting half of what I write and the half remaining isn’t something I’m excited about. Maybe soldiering on is the way to go and then I can pretty it up later…
I’ve pretty much given up for the time being. Taking a break from writing, which includes trying hard not to think about it. But every day I do … think about it, that is. Just not sitting down and writing. Thanks for commenting, it helps to know that others are dealing with the same problem.
Exactly. That’s what you’ve got to do, just write nonsense if you can’t write anything good, it’s better than nothing at all. Just the act of doing it will ‘unblock’ you.