Does this happen to you?
You know what you want to write. You even know how you want to say it but when you sit down at the keyboard, everything goes wrong.
Your first sentence limps onto the page. The next sentence stumbles after. The third falls flat.
Without a solid footing, the paragraph teeters precariously; so you go back to the first sentence to shore it up.
Plowing into the second paragraph, the going gets harder. You barely get it down.
By the third paragraph you have lost your way. All those thoughts you had gestating in your head begin to vanish.
You still know what you want to say but it is looking less and less likely that you will be able say it; so you walk away.
But you can't stay away. You keep coming back and each time you return, you do so with the hope that if you can just get a few words right, something will click and the rest will flow. But you can't get anything right.
By that time you realize you are not alone.
Someone is peering over your shoulder. He wears a green eyeshade and wields a red marker pen. Â He has smeared so much red on your page, it looks like a scene out of a Friday the 13th.
Meet your internal editor. An epic prick.
â€œHey, back off,â€ you yell.
â€œBut you need me,â€ he says.
â€œNot at this point,â€ you insist.
â€œYou are writing garbage,â€ he says, â€œSomeone has to tell you that before you waste anymore of our time.â€
â€œYou always do this,â€ you groan, â€œyou trip me up with your unrealistic expectations.â€
â€œI do not,â€ he says, â€œI know you can do better."
"I am doing the best I can," you say.
"Not even close," he says, "Remember that break-through piece you wrote last year? Why can't you do that again?â€
â€œPlease leave me alone,â€ you plead.
â€œI am just trying to help,â€ he says, not a little hurt.
This is when you push back from the desk and shout, â€œI can't work with you anymore," and stomp away.
I struggle with this guy all the time. Â We all do.
This is merely my opinion but I believe the biggest hurdle we face as writers is learning to manage our internal editor.
Face it, the guy is a prick but he is also the only one who can make us a better writer.
The thing is, he also has the power to stop us from writing. It is amazing how much writing does not get done because our internal editor refuses to allow us to write less than our best.
Still it is a balance. To improve we have to push against complacency but we cannot push so hard that it blocks us from improving.
The thing is, like any relationship, the more time we spend together, the better we get along. Â So we need to spend time with our internal editor.
But set some ground rules
Insist on the freedom to write poorly because we can always go back and fix poor writing.
But we cannot fix a blank page.
This weekâ€™s writing challenge: write an internal dialogue.
Credit for this week's challenge goes to Patrick M. He reminded me about a couple of pieces I wrote on dialogue without using tags - and in the process his internal dialogue inspired me to write this week's challenge.
That is how these writing groups work. Â We inspire each other.
- Watch the best internal dialogue ever written: The Devil Made Me Do It by Flip Wilson then write a new challenge for the Devil and Geraldine.
- Write an interview given by six personalities of a character suffering from multi-personality disorder in which they consider allowing a new member to join the group.
- Write a debate about punctuation between you and your internal editor.
- Write a speech by a politician during which his sub-conscious fact-checks his assertions.
Post your article toÂ Gather Writing Essentials.
BE SURE TO TAG your submission withÂ MWE. Â Note: I search for articles using the tag "MWE" Â If you don't tag it right,Â I will not find it.
- Include "Monday Writing Essential" in your title.
Last weekâ€™s writing challenge write a piece based on something you have read drew the following responses:
Weekly reminder: don't forget to recommend an article that you like (to learn why, read Ann Marcaida's article Attract More Writers and Artists to Gather!).. Â Also try to place a comment on at least one article and say more than you liked the piece. Â Tell the author what worked and what needs work.