Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Just Have To Ask...Stupid Question

As part of Deana's Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest, I have to ask a question. This is hard for me. I'm by nature a lurker. I like to find my answers without raising my hand. There are countless times I've heard "There's no such thing as a stupid question," by a teacher or advisor only then to be given a look that clearly said, "oh, except that one." So before I ask my question about writing/publishing, I will give you a short list of stupid questions I've asked before:

From high school:
"Wait, how can these numbers be imaginary? Aren't all numbers imaginary?"

From art school:
"How do I paint the clear bottle in the still life? Is there, like, clear paint?" (I was only sort of joking.)

From child bearing:
"Ow. This does not BLEEPING tickle. Why did I do this?" It is a stupid question, when asked at the 40th week. The second time around.

On my daughter getting contacts:
"Wait, can she get these wet?" (in fairness, I think I meant, can she go swimming with them on?)

Now for my writing question:

How do you come to terms with your evil Inner Editor? I have read a lot about it and I've worked on it for a while. my IE usually strikes, not when I'm writing, but when I'm editing. And she's smart enough to get me when I'm vulnerable (um, all the time) like when reading about another author's amazing trajectory and fabulous project. In other words, as soon as Writer's Digest hits the mailbox, she sharpens her knives. So, any out of the ordinary ideas for dealing with the evil wench?


  1. I think a critique group would let you know if you are over-editing and such and also when they think it ready.

  2. I loathe that woman sometimes (that inner editor woman). When I realize she's reared her frizzy head, I tell her to have at whatever's in my mind, but close the manuscript and walk away. I've learned (mostly) to not do revision work when she's around.

  3. Best way to deal with the inner editor is in the manner of precocious but outspoken child. Make sure she understands that her input is appreciated but it better be politely worded and constructive. There are also times when she needs to shut up and let you work. I close mine off by creating a mental image of a room with a "do not disturb" sign on the door and locking her inside. My inner editor fought tooth and nail at first, but she's gotten used to it. She knows I'll let her out when I need a real editor-style but kicking.

  4. I just go with it because I'm afraid she'll stab me in the back. :P

    I love my inner editor, especially when she comes around during a reading of someone else's work. That way I can see what worked for another other and what isn't working for me.

  5. i ignore the IE, i expect doubt and bitterness to emerge at some point so it isn't much of a surprise anymore. Just keep plugging away.

    My blogorama question is up at Moody Writing

  6. First off, all those questions sounded great to me! I am queen of stupid questions:)

    Okay, so the lunatic editor strikes again huh? Are you part of a critique group? I think Catherine is right, this can really curb the inner editors appetitie. Plus it sounds like you are doing crazy editing after you read about fantastic writing. So I think first off you need to quit telling yourself they are better than you. Even if they are great, I'm sure their road didn't start off perfect. You have every right to be great and perfect too. So don't beat yourself up when you read that stuff AND I would say don't go anywhere near your WIP right after you read WD articles. Maybe that will help:)

  7. I bet you're a lot better than what she says.

    Everyone thinks that we're geniuses, we're stupid, this is going to rock, this is going to BOMB! It's normal. Just make sure that your inner cheerleader gets a jab in every once in a while.

    If you're inner cheerleader is shy, find an outer one.

    Don't have one yet? Find me on Twitter @sbrownwriter or facebook :)

  8. As an aspiring perfectionist, I find it extremely difficult to turn mine off. So I've started bargaining with it. "If you we make it 5 chapters, you can edit, then write another 5 and edit. Sometimes the inner editor goes silent and sometimes she pops up at that 5 chapter mark, ready. Either way, I've learned to work along side her. Hope this helps! :)

  9. Thanks for all the great responses, guys. I think I need to distinguish from my 'evil' inner editor, who is really out to destroy me at any turn, and my 'good' inner editor, who just wants to make my work better. Damn it, I have too many voices in my head ;)

    @shelly, I like the idea of an inner 'cheerleader'!
    @NiaRaie, that's a great idea, bargaining with the IE, I will try that next time.
    I'm really impressed with the people who have made peace with their IE's and can work with them.

  10. I love your imaginary #'s question.

    I write freely, edit with I've written the next time, and write freely some more. I can turn it off pretty well. I want the ideas down, and can stop the bleeding words later.

  11. I don't think I can answer this question b/c I never turn her off. If I'm really getting into a story, she just sort of goes away on her own. Otherwise, I deliberately bring her out so I can assess how the author is doing it. I enjoy IE :D

  12. Great question and super answers ladies!!

    I have trouble with my evil editor too. I think my inexperience invites her to criticize too much right now. My husband and crit group help by being my cheerleaders.

    However, it's my impatience demon that vexes me the most!

  13. Alcohol. A beer sure does wonders for muting out that cruel, abusive voice. :P Okay, just kidding- alcohol is merely a band-aid for a seriously debilitating disease.
    My own evil editor is diabolical, cutting my legs out from under me every time I think I'm ready to query. Even now she told me "Who do YOU think you are to give someone else advice? What do YOU know?"

    Sorry I don't have any words of wisdom on this, it seems we're in the same boat! Thanks for asking such a great question--I'll be taking some of this advice with me!

  14. Wow. If you can answer that one, let me know. I can't NOT edit, even when I'm supposed to be proofing. I printed out my ms thinking I would do better proofing on paper. Um, no. Those pages BLED. I've decided when I'm done with my final edit (please, God, let it be the final) I will have a friend do the proofing.

  15. Two things: 1) I always keep copies of my work through the different edits, so I can go back if I delete too much in an editing frenzy, and 2) I often don't read other books while working on an intense part of the project (first draft and major edits).

  16. I don't listen to my evil IE. I will only listen to her if she is my objective IE. Sometimes I have to hide my work so my evil IE can't find it.

  17. I give my evil twin air time, so she feels appeased, but I keep it short, so I retain my sanity. I've found that if I highlight in red or make a Track Changes comment for any area I have questions about or am not in love with, I can keep both halves of my writing self in balance. Hope this helps!


  18. Oh, gosh, are you talking about me? If you find the answer, can you please share? I'm by nature a lurker myself. Good to meet you!

  19. I try to ignore it as much as possible. When can't, then I know there really is something wrong and I should pay attention!

  20. Printing the WIP out does help me. I used to be a journalist so there's something about copy editing a proof that makes me see more clearly than editing on a screen. I also don't print out until I'm finished with a WIP - I edit what I've written the day before, but that's it. I save huge revisions for the hard copy and then let out my Evil Editor.

  21. Hm, I never thought of her as evil. Funny! She and I get along famously so far. She tends to over-analyze at times, but for the most part, she's right. And I usually go along with what she says.

    I do find she works best using a PDF file, though, instead of a Word doc. This gives me time to marinate in her comments before I follow her advice.

  22. LOL! I'm still trying to tame the beast. Every time I think I have her under control someone else tells me how easy it was for them to get published and she wants to rip their heads off! But I think she's useful for more than snarky comments; she motivates me to try harder and to stick with it. After all, no one's ALL bad, right?

  23. I love my editor side, but I do have to put her in the corner when I just need to keep moving forward on my MS. I pull her back just before my critique group meeting and let her devour with a pink pen.


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