Monday, December 7, 2009

Don't Turn It Off!

I’ve read in many publications, “Turn off the internal editor when writing,” but is that really helpful? Is it even possible? Maybe better advice would be not to shut it off completely but to let it nap.

I learned Saturday that squelching my mental critique partner may be hazardous to my health—or to my sleep. That day, I left a personal comment on a friend’s blog. That night, somewhere around 3:00 a.m., my internal editor crashed my dream and nagged my unconscious about wrong word usage. Word usage, the nightmare! I had written “reign” to mean “rein” on a public forum and humiliated myself in front of hundreds of potential readers (or at least of the fifteen other commenters). I obsessed over that error til morning light.

To aim for perfection in my writing I must allow the internal editor to function. That’s what keeps my stories straight, characters coordinated, and words wise. Without that regulator, I end up with a sloppy first draft that needs a lot of cleanup. If I keep my writing in check along the way, I save myself time and effort in revisions.

I think it’s safe to let the copy editor doze off. You know, the one who checks spelling and punctuation. It’s ok to hit its snooze alarm, but keep the content editor awake. I know I rest more peacefully when I do.


Lynnda - Passionate for the Glory of God said...

Good morning, Jodi;

I think I saw your comment. Rather than having a laugh at your expense, it made me feel better to realize that even seasoned professionals make mistakes. It reminded me that perfection is a wonderful goal as long as we don't let it become a slave driver in our lives.

Now that I've read your blog, the whole episode re-enforces my self-coaching to be a little easier on myself when I make a mistake in my writing.

Thank you for being transparent about this issue.

Be blessed,


Jodi Whisenhunt said...

Hi, Lynnda!

Glad you could learn from my mistakes (& my obsessions)! Have a wonderful day!


Chris said...

Good advice. With auto-correct features on wordprocessors, it's easier not to get distracted by spelling mistakes.

Daphne said...

I'm an ex-journalist and once I wrote a story about a nationally known author and used "their" when I meant "they're". Talk about embarrassing. (Of course, no editor caught the error!)

THAT SAID, I'm 100% convinced your own internal editor should always be ignored while you're writing. The creative part of our brains tend to shut down when the editing part is awake.

The only trick, I think, is to remember to have the editor check the work before you hit "print" or "send."

Sorry - I think this is being posted anonymously -- only because I can't get my google account working. I'm

Jodi Whisenhunt said...

Chris, thank you! Just be sure not to trust those spell checkers too much.

Daphne, thanks for your confession! I guess you can't blame yourself too much when a second set of eyes missed the error as well. Yes, we do always need to remember to wake the editor up before submitting anything. Thanks for your comments - I welcome your insight!

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