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An Effective Method for Turning Off Your Inner Editor

by Jennifer on May 19, 2010

By Jennifer Blanchard

If you’re a writer, you have an inner editor. You know, that voice deep inside your brain that tells you your writing sucks or that you have no idea what you’re doing?

Yea, that one.

That voice wants nothing more than for you to quit writing or to feel like you’re not good enough to be a writer. It wants nothing more than for you to question every word you write and spend countless amounts of time rewriting and rewriting and rewriting.

But don’t listen to what that inner editor tells you.

Tell Your Inner Editor Off
The other day on Copyblogger, Associate Editor, Jon Morrow, gave us 10 new ideas for getting inspired to write. And in that post, he suggested something totally spot-on: write a letter to your inner editor.

OK writers, get out your pens and paper (or open a new document on your computer) and tell your inner editor who’s boss.

Tell her how much you hate her. Tell her she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Say you’re not going to listen to her anymore.

Get everything off your chest—whatever the voice says that bothers you, write about it.

Communicating to your inner editor can help you work out any issues you have that keep you from writing.

Maybe you’re lacking in confidence. Maybe you are feel like you don’t have time. Maybe it’s more of a fear thing.

Whatever is bothering you, use the letter to get it all out.

Once you’re finished, set the letter aside, rip it up, throw it out…do whatever you want with it.

Now you can get back to your writing. Inner editor free.

Has this method worked for you? What was your experience like?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nellie May 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm

That’s not an inner editor, that’s an inner critic. A real editor offers constructive criticism. Don’t give my tribe a bad reputation! LOL

2 jennifer blanchard May 20, 2010 at 12:35 pm

@Nellie Yes, inner critic and inner editor are pretty much the same thing. An inner critic tells you your writing sucks. An inner editor tells you that you have to keep going back and fix this or change that. In my opinion, that’s the same thing.

I agree with you on a real editor giving constructive feedback…I used to be an editor myself and I always made sure to give feedback that my writers could use to improve their stories.

But that’s an external editor… an inner editor isn’t quite so helpful.

3 Marquita May 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Love this post. Really good idea. I am definitely writing a vicious letter to my “inner editor/critic” tonight.

4 Monica Rodriguez May 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I have to side with Nellie – editor isn’t the same as critic, even inside. I too am an editor (of textbooks, but still the same process). The voice telling you you suck is criticizing you out of fear, etc., usually in a mean-spirited way. The editor in you may also be coming from fear of not being good enough, but I think there’s something qualitatively different in a voice that’s saying, change that word, cut that word, etc. – changes that may be appropriate, but not at that time – to a voice trying to tear you down with every word, aiming to get you to STOP writing altogether.

As far as how I deal with my inner editor… well, it was very difficult for me to shut her up – until I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) last November. Members of my local group helped me push myself to write faster, without ‘thinking,’ without questioning, without stopping. No chances for second guessing if you’re writing 2000 words a day. It was a terrific breakthrough for me. One of the best results of that month.

Right now, I’m revising that manuscript, so the inner editor is back in the driver’s seat. Hopefully, I’ll be able to shut her up again when it comes time to write another first draft.

5 jennifer blanchard May 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm

@Monica Rodriguez Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! Whether we call it an inner “editor” or an inner “critic” I think we all agree that it needs to be stopped and put in its place 🙂

Congrats on your NaNoWriMo success! I am a huge NaNo fan…but have not yet won. Maybe this year thou. I think it helps to do as you did and join a local NaNo group. Being in that kind of environment makes it much easier to stay on track and get your words written–since you know everyone else around you is doing the exact same thing.

Good luck on your rewrites! Be sure to let me know how they go…

6 Thea Easterby May 21, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Hi Jennifer

I can definitely relate to this post on certain days. Whatever you call that negative voice in your head it can be super annoying and harmful to your writing, not to mention your productivity.

I like the letter idea. Good idea!!


7 Dr.Naquib August 9, 2011 at 1:01 am

Extremely useful. These sound like biblical sermons. Writers now know that they have various “selfs”.

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