Gollum is My Inner Editor

We writers all have something within us called our inner editor. Mine resembles a female Gollum, with thick hipster glasses and a bad attitude.

This is the same supercilious creature that causes us to judge your punctuation and word choice in the texts you send us. And don’t get me started on Facebook posts. This tetchy perfectionist is not only judgmental about you, she really likes taking her abuse out on us- the hosts this parasite feeds off. She’s a cranky bastard. And sometimes, she gets the better of us.

It’s bugging the crap out of her this very moment that I not only used an adverb, but I put it in bold font.

I’ve been reading articles and blogs focused on what makes quality writing, dos and don’ts with dialogue, how to stay out of the rejection pile, and countless other pieces of advice that tell writers exactly what we are doing wrong.  As a result, I keep having to talk myself off the edge and remind myself that a first draft of fiction isn’t suppose to be great, it’s meant to put words on that blank page to edit the hell out of later.

That doesn’t mean I accept this premise with ease.

Due to NaNoWriMo’s speed, I feel like I’m doing all the “don’ts.” Let me correct that, I know my NaNo writing is full of don’ts. First drafts, especially those written under time constraints like NaNo, are bound to be full of really crappy writing.

At this point, my inner editor won’t even associate with my characters. She keeps telling them “You’re so boring— I’m not talking to you.” They aren’t developing into who I know they are meant to be. And it turns out, that’s okay.

In a NaNoWriMo Spreecast last weekend, Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles series, stated “I don’t feel like I really know my characters inside and out until the third or fourth draft of a book.”  This gives me hope that my characters, one day, won’t be so wretched.  You can read her NaNoWriMo success story here. By the way, that’s one indication that you might be a writer, when four drafts isn’t daunting, as long as your character comes through in the end.

The take away is this: The first draft is a road map, editing is where the magic happens. That is when a writer can release the Gollum inside and allow her the freedom to rip sentences and paragraphs to shreds only to entwine the jagged fragments into golden nuggets of descriptive prose.

And my inner editor? I’ve taken to keeping her on her badly-in-need-of-a-pedicure toes, in full rebellion, sending text messages chock full of bad grammar to everyone I know. You’re welcome.

#whatdoesyourinnereditorlooklike

Hello from NaNo Land

NaNoWriMo has consumed my life. Today’s post will be a quick one, after all, upon finishing this, I have to go write at least 1,667 words or else I will not be able to live with myself. That’s the thing about making goals, I become hell-bent on meeting them.

Being a quick write for me, this blog post has the added benefit of being a quick read for you. We all have things to do.

I have gathered a list, based on recent experience, of the top 10 things you can expect the first week of NaNoWriMo, should you attempt 50,000 words in 30 days. At 8,557 words in, I can tell you this:

1. The NaNoWriMo website has an area in which you can update your daily word count. Daily being the big fat lie in that sentence. You will stop every couple hours minutes to update this number. Obsessively. It’s a NaNo addiction.

2. You will burn dinner. Even in a crockpot. I blame the crockpot.

3. For no explainable reason, after having compiled playlists meant for the ideal listening environment while writing, you find you can only write to Film Scores Radio on Pandora. A side benefit is that you learn new things about your spouse, like he can identify every film score known to man. I wasn’t aware mine even knew what Downton Abbey was. And I’m pretty sure he is now secretly listening to the station when he works from home.  Copy cat.

4. Everyone will interrupt you. Multiple times. All in a row. In my house, I swear they gather to strategize in the living room downstairs and then execute their evil plan in quick succession only to return forty-five minutes later and repeat the task. Well played, family, well played.

5. Writing is exhausting, especially if it’s going slow. If it is going slow, I recommend wine. You may not write faster, but you will be happier. Bonus: Most times, wine tones down your inner editor and you DO write faster. And during NaNoWriMo, time matters. Write now, edit later.

6. You will discover a website called ChatWithYourself.com. Writers on the NaNo forums swear they utilize this when figuring out dialog, but I remain unconvinced. At the top left corner of the screen there are two counting systems, one titled “Lonely People Chatting” and the other “Creepy People Watching You.” Do you really want to be part of that? I have yet to type anything in the given field because I’m pretty sure it is a portal through which Dr. Who aliens invade your home. Either that or it’s the new Tinder, which would be difficult to explain to my husband. Try it out and leave me a comment. If you survive. Or if you hook up.

7. You will cancel awesome plans with close friends involving jalapeño burgers and whiskey smashes because you haven’t achieved your word count. And I really like whiskey smashes. Pout.

8. You’ll decide at 7,800 words into your novel that you should have written it in first person perspective. And then change the entire thing. Nice job newbie.

9. Congratulations! You have finally found a way to reduce time spent on Facebook.  Your narrow window of opportunity becomes 3 a.m. after writing is complete or 7:45 a.m. while waiting with your child at the bus stop. Good job.

10. Sleep becomes a mythical creature that once inhabited your kingdom, spreading kindness and a wealth of tolerance. But NaNoWriMo killed it. This is unfortunate for everyone around you. Just start calling yourself Cranky Pants.

 

Good luck to all you WriMers out there! Only 41,443 words to go…