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Get Thee Behind Me

by Linda Robinson

I always want to learn anything and everything to help me write better, so I can’t resist reading all blogs and articles that cross my path via email or social media. Books about learning the trade and refining one’s talents draw my attention, and I’ve bought many.

But the more writing rules I read, the more boggled my mind becomes. Add my inner editor, and I find myself doubting my abilities and questioning every sentence I pen. Even after rewriting it several times, I’m never totally convinced it’s “perfect.” The uninvited voice whispers, Hmm…this is boring. Is it the best you’ve got? Can’t you just ratchet up the suspense a little?

Such thinking can cause a writer, at least this one, to procrastinate, or worse yet, stop writing for long periods. Since I’m a perfectionist wannabe, I don’t want my critique partners to think I’m stupid or losing it, even though they understand my submissions for their review are not final drafts. Besides, that’s what critique partners do–offer suggestions to make the story and the writing better.

I know all these things, but I still let my inner editor nag me. Repeatedly, she says, “Go back one more time to make sure you haven’t left out (or in) a little word or written a wrong one.” This can go on for days with every reread, so I call her “my personal antagonist.”

Add the fact that my writer’s muse recently took an extended vacation, and I found a recipe for total inactivity–one that crippled creativity and ambition.

In a recent attempt to change, to oust the time-usurping demons and be more productive, I made an early New Year’s resolution: I will turn off my inner editor, write the story, scene or chapter–all of it–then go back and edit. Easier said than done, but that’s my goal.

How about some of you? Do you ever get bogged down in writing rules and self-editing, letting them hinder your goals? If so, would you please share a solution that has helped you?

Linda RobinsonLinda Robinson, author of five published novels, is a member of her local Writers’ Forum, ACFW, and Scribes. She guest blogs and writes fictional and non-fictional short stories for magazines and contests. Her latest book, a compilation of short stories titled Truth & Southern-Fried Fiction, released in September 2016. Visit Linda on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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3 Responses to Get Thee Behind Me

  1. It is definitely easy to get bogged down in rules and that inner critic! Thanks for sharing your goal.

  2. My inner editor used to be a covert niggling nag. Now that she’s firmly dug in to my psyche like a tick on a particularly tasty dog, she no longer whispers, but shouts nasty things into my brain as I pen every word. I know exactly how you feel, Linda. I cannot write a single sentence without redoing or rearranging it to suit her ever-changing rules and whims.

  3. Thank you for commenting Patricia Bradley and Irene Onorato. It helps to know I’m not alone. 🙂