Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Silencing Your Inner Editor

Is your Inner Editor a friend or foe? For most of us the answer is dependent on where we are in the writing process. This overly helpful voice lives inside most of us and comes in handy when we’re putting the finishing touches on our manuscripts. But when we’re in the midst of a creative surge, that same help can short-circuit our progress.
There’s a scientific reason for that roadblock. The creative act of writing a first draft stems from the right side—or creative side—of the brain. Later in the process, when polishing begins, the left side takes over.
Right Brain
  • Visual in process, focusing more on patterns and images.
  • Generally intuitive, led by feelings.
  • Is the epitome of multi-tasking, able to process ideas simultaneously.
  • Progresses from the big picture to the details.
  • Lacks organization, utilizes free association.
Left Brain
  • More verbal, needs to find specific words to express ideas.
  • Analytical, led by logic.
  • Takes things step by step, one idea at a time.
  • Organizes details first before moving to the big picture.
  • Very organized, utilizing lists and detailed plans.
Mixing up the process—trying to use both sides of the brain at the same time—can lead to a tangled mess and a major roadblock. All of this is good to know, but what if our left-brained Inner Editor won’t go away? There isn’t one way that works for everyone, but here are some tips that should help.
  • Don’t give in to temptation. Our Inner Editor gets stronger the more frequently we give in to his demands. If he thinks you need a certain word before you can finish that sentence, stay strong. Type xxx and go on. Later, during the rewriting process, you’ll have plenty of time to find the right word. At this point in your manuscript, speed is your best friend.
  • Set a daily and weekly word count goal. This can often sidetrack the Inner Editor because of his need to meet a goal. Sometimes, in his drive to succeed he can even become an ally.
  • Make lists in a separate notebook. Use your computer for the story, but if the need for details overshadows the creative urge, make a quick note in a notebook. Don’t let yourself get bogged down.
  • Don’t give in to fear. Many times our Inner Editor is driven by fear. Fear that this draft isn’t good, won’t work or just doesn’t make sense. Remind yourself that this version isn’t written in stone. Sometimes just giving ourselves permission to write a crummy first draft is all we need to derail our inner editor.
No matter how insistent your Inner Editor, these tips can help you change his role from enemy to encourager.

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog,The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She currently has two books available, the best selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, and her latest project, a devotional for those with family members in the military, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle.Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.


  1. Edie, I'm going to follow this to the letter, but my inner editor is a tyrant! We'll see if we can shut her up. ;o)

  2. Thanks, Edie, these are good ideas! I do struggle with this, so I am going to try what you've sugged.

  3. So true. The inner editor always keeps me from starting a new scene in my ms. I keep thinking I can't make a scene work, it's just not ready. Then I remind myself that getting the skeleton on the page helps me fill in the flesh. But until I have the skeleton, the flesh has nowhere to go. With this in mind, I find I enjoy the perfecting piece more than I'd have originally imagined. I'm not generally a detail oriented person. But once the structure is there and it's time to add the depth, color and meaning (through the details, descriptions, perfect word choices, tight writing) it starts to become what I wanted it to be ... and wow, that's turned out to be the fun part--Who knew!

  4. I'm with Ane. My inner editor is a bigmouth and pretty obnoxious at times. My favorite phrase is "speed is your best friend." I'm practicing that on the first go-round from now on.


Don't be shy. Share what's on your mind.