Monday, March 2, 2009

Battling Conflict Internal

The Internal Editor (I.E. for short) can be a rather tough cookie for us writers. "She" can be loud, obnoxious and noisy and tends to be a blabbermouth. Now, of course, I reference I.E. as a she because "she" is a part of me.

I am sure there are those who appear to have no internal editor and just write like they think, talk, react- giving little thought to grammar, punctuation, tense, sentence structure, etc. I'm sure they have an internal editor hidden somewhere, but perhaps not nearly as mouthy or prominent as others. Perhaps he/she hasn't grown into the behemoth most of us writers have grown to know, love and hate.

Our internal editors are helpful when it comes to revisions, but when writing a first draft of a novel- sometimes not so much. It depends on how we balance out the logic with the fantasy of what we write. Sometimes our I.E. is so locked in on corrections and perfection that it overpowers our ability to write what's in our heart.

"Writer's Block" sometimes settles in as our Internal cautions us that we need to "fix" everything before we can move on. Other times, our characters give up even trying to tell their story because they have to fight and scream over Internal's constant criticisms about what's been told so far, or how it's written and how wrong we are.

Everyone's method of getting their stories down is different. I've found, that for me, it works best when I bind and gag my I.E., toss her in the closet and slip her a little nourishment from time to time so that she doesn't die completely while I type my little heart out.

I'm not ashamed of her by any means. She's a hard worker and points out the things I need to fix, polish, edit, reword, rework, etc.... but there comes a point where I can't think for all the sputtering nonsense she overflows with while I'm in the middle of a first draft.

She drowns out the heart of my story and makes me doubt myself and my ability to write. I have to make her leave for a while because I can't concentrate on what my characters are telling me or follow their lead if I keep listening to her and going back to change this or that.

Do you listen to your Internal Editor while you write your first draft? Or do you lock him/her away until you reach The End?

Is there any way to balance writing and internal editing? Can you do both with success simultaneously? Can they work together in harmony or does there need to some boundary line- a division- between the two?

This has been a recent topic of discussion on fellow writer, Devon Matthews' blog. Feel free to join in the discussion here or there.

What works best for you? I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.


Devon Matthews said...

Taryn, you nailed it. And you already know my answer to this question. Today will tell the tale. I'm trying your method, and I'll check in later tonight to let you know how I felt about it and my word total for the day. Thanks for all your help and encouragement! :o)

Jennifer Madden said...

I'm afraid my little editor sits right next to me at the desk. She has notepad in hand and watches over what I write like a hawk. Luckily, she is a sensible little editor, and she usually just jots down a little note on her pad, to remind me to come back to it later. If I'm in a good spot, just pounding away, she knows to leave me alone till I'm ready to come back to stuff.
I can't just write without some kind of internal dialogue going on; debating a word, or a spelling or should a comma go there? Spellcheck is evil for me, because I can't leave the little red and green lines everywhere. It bugs me. But I don't do big time edits until I'm done with the store, or at least think I'm done. 90% of the time, I go back and end up changing something major, that totally reroutes the story.
So, did your IE go into the closet willingly or did you have to shove her there?

Taryn Raye said...

Usually a bout of wrestling occurs before I roll her up in duck tape and stuff her in there, kicking and screaming- as best she can with a bandana tied around her mouth.


Magdalena Scott said...

I've been enjoying the conversation here and on Devon's blog.

I guess my I.E. is easier to get along with than yours, Taryn and Devon. She's no over-achiever, so if I don't want her to work, she'd just as soon loll around on the furniture, or go play with the dog. She may be making notes like Jennifer's I.E., but I don't think so.

However, when I call her in on a project, she can be pretty much of a harpy. So she does get her say eventually. Yay.

Janet C. Fish said...

I am a visual artist. I have an inner critic. I even named him and gave him physical characteristics. Then I painted a picture of him, tied up with a woman with her foot planted squarely on his back. LOL

But my inner critic wasn't helpful to me like your internal editor is. Mine was cruel. Once I got him under control, then my inner art critic came forward and did what yours does, gave me some good advice. One problem is that she doesn't know when to quit working something. LOL

BTW, I tripped over your blog on Karrin's myspace. I've known her mother Karen (in Oregon) for over 45 years. I'm glad I found your blog, you express yourselve so well, and I identify with so much that you say.

Janet in Kansas

Taryn Raye said...

Thanks so much for dropping by Janet and sharing about your inner critic and for your kind words.

I wrote to Aunt Karen and let her know you happened across my blog.

Please feel free to stop by anytime! :o)

Amy Durham said...

I think it's important to turn off the IE during the first draft. It's so hard for me to do it, but I make myself, because that first draft... when it seems to be flying out of my head and onto the computer screen... that's when the writing is the freshest and most honest. I even let the adverbs roll out. Oh, sometimes I catch them and some of the other "don'ts" but if I don't I try really hard not to care. I can fix them later when I'm nit-picking. I don't want to nit-pick on the first draft. That's when the writing is so fun, and all I want to do is just WRITE!

Taryn Raye said...

Couldn't agree more, Amy!

That's given me an idea for tomorrow's blog- something that flickered through my thoughts just now.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing!