You know that "inner editor" thing--the one you can't seem to turn off when you're supposedly reading for pleasure?
Yeah, that. It encroaches upon my life on a regular basis. This never happened before I decided to write seriously--I was actually able to read a book and not be bothered by (or notice, for that matter), the odd typographical error or misspelling. Reading was, well, pleasurable.
Oh, how things have changed. I find myself silently editing everything from directions on a web page to the latest YA novel on my lap to --gasp-- the Bible. I'm sure this has increased exponentially because I'm now freelance editing, so a lot of my reading is supposed to be nitpicky and problem-findy.
It's just--how do you turn it off?
And, of course, the editing monster really rears its anal retentive head whenever I'm drafting or revising. I know there are many writers out there who adore the unfettered freedom of spilling out their souls during a draft, without worrying about much of anything. Because, that's what revisions are for, right? But me? I've got to craft every sentence. Hear every line of dialogue naturally and believably in my head before I'll move on from it.
And yes, I draft this way. I still get my 1000 words a day (which is one first draft in about 3 months). And I revise this way (under normal circumstances, a hefty revision takes me about a month). So it's not like I don't get my work done. It's just...ponderous. Not at all spew-guts-and-clean-up-later.
I'm fine with that--it's the way I am. It's just that sometimes I wonder how it would feel to not be this way. To be able to sit down and let it flow.
(Funny. I don't have any problem with nonfiction. It flows. Blogging is effortless. But fiction is another story.)
Recently, I posted on Facebook about how hard it is to write stories (because, yanno, the Muggles need to know this, right?) I mentioned that, for me, words come easily, but writing the actual story (plotting, logic, etc.) is much harder.
And a friend of mine who is a life-long piano teacher (and who knows that I am also a pianist), said this in response:
That comes from years of piano practice -- you know it can always be better.
Her words struck me, because I believe she's absolutely right. I've studied the piano since the age of 6. I majored in it at college, where I spent hours and hours perfecting my repertoire. And at the end of the day, it could always be better.
That sounds sort of hopeless, but it's not. You see, in those 4 years of college, my piano skills grew beyond measure. I came in as a floundering freshman who was a bit behind on her technique, and ended up reaching a height of musicality and proficiency that I had barely dreamed of.
Not perfect. Always room for improvement. But so much growth.
So, yeah, it can be exhausting to be so attuned to every detail of my work. And I'm sure that drafting would feel almost effortless if I could let go of my intense word-crafting. But when I look back over the past several years and see how much I've grown as a writer, I'm glad for the way things are. Because, clearly, it's working for me.
What about you? Does your internal editor drive you crazy when you read? When you write? Or are you able to let it all go and simply throw yourself into a maelstrom of words that you figure you'll fix later?
Share! Part of growing is learning how others do things. And you know how much I love hearing from you.
Have a glorious weekend!