September 6, 2013

Three Ways to Muzzle Your Internal Editor

By Connie Mann
Has this ever happened to you? You’re hunched over the keyboard, fingers flying as you picture the scene unfolding in your mind’s eye and then, wham. Your internal editor pipes up with, “Uh, are you sure that’s the word you want to use right there? I don’t know. How about a different one?”

Just like that, creativity screeches to a dead stop. Now all you can think about is that pesky word. Or phrase. Or awkward sentence structure.

As writers, we need our internal editor, no question. But only when we’re in editing mode. While we’re in creative mode and working on a first draft, we need a way to silence that pesky mood spoiler and muzzle our personal grammar cop.

How do we do that? Here are three strategies that work for me:

Write Fast
I know there are writers who can add 3-5 perfectly written, carefully edited pages to their manuscript at the end of every workday. If that’s you, I’m envious. My creative process is a far messier, less organized proposition. I apparently have the attention span of a gnat, because if I write too slowly, or go back to the beginning too often, I lose interest in the project before I reach the end. I have learned I need to dump that first draft onto the page as fast as I possibly can. That way I keep my head in the story and my excitement strong enough to pull me along from chapter to chapter—all the way to the final scene.

Write Early
Though I’ve tried to be a morning person, I’m really not. But I have learned to use this to my advantage. When I write early in the morning, my internal editor isn’t awake yet. Coffee cup in hand, I sit down at my computer and simply start writing the scene that’s playing in my mind. Doing this frees my creativity and I’m usually surprised by what I’ve written—especially without my editor chirping on my shoulder. Try it and see if it works for you.

This is a tough one: while you’re working on your first draft, don’t let yourself go back and tweak…at all. Re-reading a page or two to get back into the story is okay, but don’t start changing things or you’ll wreck your momentum. Just keep plowing forward. I’ve used this approach with every story I’ve written, including my new novel, Angel Falls. Those book-in-a-week or month-long writing challenges are a great way to gallop right past your internal editor and get to the finish line of your story.

Hopefully, these strategies will help you keep moving forward, so you can type THE END. When your internal editor squawks, let him or her know his turn is coming. When that first draft is out of your head, let her fix and tweak to her grammatically correct little heart’s content.
Connie Mann loves variety, so she is an author, a blogger and a boat captain. She encourages women to reach their dreams through her blog: and speaks on perseverance and the writing craft. She knows a bit about being stubborn since her new romantic suspense, Angel Falls, took 10 years to get published! She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America and loves romantic suspense. She is also a United States Coast Guard-licensed boat captain, so when she’s not writing, she’s usually on Central Florida’s waterways with local school children or her fabulous family. Please visit her online at:

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