In (mild) defense of the Inner Editor.


An open letter to Lindsey Grant, of the Office of Letters and Light

Nov 12 2010

Lindsey,

Ever since I watched your NanoVideo segment ‘Silencing your Inner Editor’, something’s been nagging me about it. As I drifted off to sleep last night after a successful write-in, the reasons why came clear – you are maligning my Inner Editor, and likely those of tens of thousands of other writers around the world. I cannot let these calumnies stand unrefuted.

Lest I get tarred and feathered myself, I should be clear that I don’t believe my Inner Editor has a part to play in National Novel Writing Month. And the little voice inside me that whispers the sort of things you mention in the video – that my writing isn’t worthwhile, that I should stop and give up etcetera – that voice is there, and it deserves every bit of abuse you threw in its direction. But that’s not what I’d call my Inner Editor, and I propose calling that voice the Inner Critic.

The Inner Editor is a different beast. He doesn’t want me to give up writing, or think that my words aren’t worthwhile. He goes the other direction, nagging at me to make each phrase and sentence the best that it could possibly be. If he suggests deleting my draft so far, it’s only because he thinks that I could start over again and do it better – if he whispers that I shouldn’t start the next scene, it’s only because he thinks that the scene I’ve just finished could use some polishing.

So no, I don’t listen to my Inner Editor during November – that’s part of the point of National Novel Writing Month. But neither do I believe that he should be ‘trashed’ permanently. He has a worthwhile contribution to make to my writing, and in fact I’ve spent several months this past year working closely with him, trying to get my 2007 Nanovel ‘The Long Way Home’ into suitable condition that I could show it to an agent!

Rather than a trash bin, I suggest a well-appointed and comfortable cage as the proper way to keep an Inner Editor out of the way for November. Make sure to stock it with all of that healthy food that takes a long time to prepare that he keeps saying you should eat more of instead of junk, and offer him plenty of your old manuscripts to read through and make notes in the margins – as long as he promises not to show them to you until the 1st of December.
Wishing you high word counts,

Chris K.

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