I met with someone the other day who brought up an interesting point. What do you do when you can’t turn off the internal editor? When she/he is ruining all attempts to get words written?
Here’s what I do:
- Black out your computer screen. If you can’t see the words, you’ll be less tempted to go back and correct them.
- Use XXXX. Whenever I’m stuck on something–the perfect word, the fact I should research on the internet, I type in XXX. Later, I can do a search and replace the XXX’s with what I thought I needed. In most cases, the story is fine without it.
- Set a timer. Set a timer for a short amount, maybe ten minutes, then give yourself permission to write as fast as you can, ignoring punctuation, word choices, etc. As a reward, you promise your internal editor free reign after the slotted time period.
- Give yourself permission to write dreck. Even if you think you’re writing dreck, it’s good dreck. Not every building can be the Taj Mahal. Sometimes you have to start with a straw hut and make a lot of improvements.
- Throw your internal editor in a closet and lose the key.
- Participate in a Book in a Week challenge or National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November. My writing group typically holds a Write a Book in a Month contest between the February meeting and March meeting. Participating in such a challenge automatically gags the internal editor. There’s no time to stop because the focus of the task is word count, word count and nothing but word count.
Try one of these tips the next time your internal editor starts screaming at you. You’ll get more written than you think.