The inner editor: Does anyone know how to turn it off?


I’ve been editing for a long time. The ‘typos, syntax, and grammar’ kind of editing. I normally don’t have a problem keeping the creative fire well-stoked in the early editing stages (You know, the ones where you’re adding new scenes and clarifying character arcs) but when I get to this point, it gets difficult.

Mostly because I don’t know how to turn it off. I find it so hard to read for pleasure when I’m deep into this final-stage editing phase. I’ll pick up a favorite author, and I can’t stop from diagramming the sentences in my head. I see a word used twice in the same paragraph and my fingers twitch for my green highlighter to mark the repetition. I get the urge to do a fact check on every detail I see, even though I’m sure the real author already did that.

So I haven’t been reading very much lately, and that’s the sort of thing that will really chip away at the creative spirit. I tried to find ways to make the inner editor take a short nap while I read, but came up empty. What I did find was other ways to keep myself inspired by good storytelling without subconsciously dissecting it as I go.

Here are some of the things I’ve been enjoying lately:

  • Graphic Novels / Manga: The fact that you get the emotions and action through pictures is really refreshing, and keeps my inner editor from pulling apart the dialog. Also, I’m discovering some really cool stuff. I read a one shot about Dick Grayson (Here, if anyone’s interested. Which you should be) which was told in reverse chronological order. I’ve never seen that literary maneuver preformed so well. Ever.
  • Poetry: I don’t read as much poetry as I should. It’s been nice to get back into it, and also nice to not have to worry so much about grammar.
  • And speaking of grammar… Yeah, I have some grammar books kicking around my shelves for ‘someday’ reading. It occurred to me that now would be the perfect time to actually curl up with one of these.
  • And NOT speaking of grammar… Ever read Gertrude Stein? Yeah, I won’t get too deep into that topic right now, but she was rather helpful to me these past few weeks. It’s just kind of refreshing after scouring my own documents for overused words to see the same word used over and over and over on purpose. And over. On purpose. Over on purpose. Over and over on purpose. Over. (Okay, I’m done now. On purpose.)

 Candles 010315Well, in short, I did not learn how to silence the inner editor. I just found ways to still feed the creative fire. I’m blissfully out of close editing now, so hopefully I’ll be able to return to my regular diet of fiction.

 I am curious, though, if anyone else has this problem, and if you’ve found any solutions to it? How do you put your inner editor in a time out long enough to enjoy reading?


11 responses »

  1. Good question! I like to go back to my favourite comfort books that I’ve read a zillion times, where I can relax and enjoy them. I’ve seen them so often that I skip over the analysis part and get sucked into it right away.

    What grammar books do you have on your shelf? I’m curious. I’m always on the lookout for writing resources. 🙂

  2. I have no idea. 😛

    At this point, I’ve been editing so solidly for the past sixth months that not only have I not done any reading, I’ve not done any new writing, either. I am in full blown coffee and highlighter mode, as far as the written word is concerned.

    However, I have noticed that I’ve done a lot more drawing, painting, knitting, sculpting and whatnot, so I guess my answer is just to use other creative outlets.

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