Satisfying my Inner Editor

Today, I was bad. Today, despite my promises, I did the unthinkable but inevitable read-through of the 3,000 words I wrote yesterday for my novel. Inner editor has defeated me, but I figured I’d explain and defend my choice first.

Image: Morguefile

Image: Morguefile

Yesterday, I used the program over at Yes, I finally allowed a computer program to put a lock on my inner editor. Funny thing is, despite my stubborn misgivings, it actually kind of worked. I started writing, was annoyed for the first five minutes over the fact that I couldn’t really see what I was writing, and then I got over it. And then I wrote and wrote and wrote. Originally my goal was set to 2,500 words, but by the time I felt the scene was “complete,” I was just above 3,000.

Writing 3,000 words in one sitting is nothing new for me. I am the kind of person that writes by the scene or chapter. There has to be a sense of completion before I’ll stop, so that’s typically my magical number. Give or take a few words. The problem is that I don’t write 3,000 words every day (try once a month for a novel, for instance), and when I do, it takes hours. However, writing 3,000 words without stopping to think about what I’m writing, without pausing to correct spelling or grammar or sentence structure or anything at all, enabled me to write those 3,000 words in just over an hour.

After I finished, I was so horrified by what I thought I’d written that I actually did a very un-Michelle-like thing. I copied my scene, pasted it into a Word document, saved it, and refused to read it. Unlike my normal writing sessions, since I hadn’t been able to reread as I wrote it, I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d written. I could remember bits and pieces of dialogue, a few lines, but otherwise, I found myself drawing a blank. Admittedly, I was daunted by the fact that I didn’t know if I’d written anything that would actually benefit my story.

Today, I couldn’t resist any longer. Inner-editor was ignored for 24 hours (that’s a record), but alas, I had to know. I opened the Word document with closed eyes, then I practically peeked through my fingers. I started reading. Spelling errors. Some repeated sentences/ideas here or there. The formatting was messed up due to how I’d written it (and my inability to see anything). As for the text itself? I took it slowly. I started from the beginning. Fixed the quotation marks. Combined sentences. Rewrote a few of them so they sounded less like a five year old had written them. Added more detail, took other details out. This took me about two hours, if I’m being honest.

And I got to the end, and I did another un-Michelle-like thing. I smiled over what I’d written. I smiled.

It wasn’t perfect by any means. It still needs editing. But I’m content, for the moment, with what I have on the page. Content enough that inner-editor Michelle can move forward with the story.

There is hope for me after all.

Have you guys used ilys or some other kind of writing program? Opinions? How do you satisfy your inner editor?


Zoey reaches up and retakes his hand, running her fingers across his palm. “How are you flying?”

“How are you sitting on the water?” Fyffe says, grinning despite himself. “This is my world, Zoey. You’ve awoken to a dream.”


10 thoughts on “Satisfying my Inner Editor

  1. I allow my inner editor free reign. I always read my last chapter before writing, and fix things that are wrong.

    A majority of people say never to do this. Remember, the majority opinion is still just an opinion. What works for me might be different than the majority.

    • Yes! Exactly! I do the same thing; I always reread my latest chapter. For me it’s a way of getting back into the story, and if I happen to see something that needs fixing, well . . . then I fix it, of course!

      You’re right, though. Though many people are anti-editing advocates (until the completion of the first draft), it’s just an opinion. You’ve got to do what is right for you.

  2. I’m proud of you! Your inner editor took a wee break and you made serious progress in just three hours. 🙂 I haven’t tried the program, but I think I will. I find the red squiggles to be very distracting when I write.

  3. I can sympathise with this so much. I tend to write chapters off the cuff and paste them into a document. I don’t look at them for weeks and then only in ‘ten chapter’ chunks. For me I don’t like anything getting in the way of the creating process, but it’s hard not to edit as you go 🙂


    • I think doing it that way is probably a great way of going about it. When you put your work to the side like that without editing it, then when you come back to it, you see it with fresh eyes — so your edits are probably more effective! 🙂

      It has helped for me to get back into the creative process. I’ve been editing so much lately, that getting into “flow” has gotten harder and harder. There’s something soothing about just getting words on the page, no matter how “bad” they are.

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

  4. I have never tried any form of a writing program, but your experience has nudged me a bit closer to giving it a try. Too often, I find myself writing new thoughts and editing in the same breath. In those flow moments where the fingertips begin to start moving faster than my mind, I achieve the results provided by one of those writing programs. And like you, I find myself smiling when I am done. When I keep the left brain out of the equation, if for just a little bit, I discover myself. That makes me smile too 😉 Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Hi Dave! Do give it a try! That left brain, yes . . . always getting in the way. One of my biggest problems is that I end up putting a block (a giant sized bus of a block) on my own progress, and even knowing this, I have trouble getting past it. The good thing about this program is that it only lets you see one letter at a time. If you mess up (spelling or something) — you can hit backspace once, I believe. So if you have those quick-on-the-draw, fix-errors-without-thinking fingers, then at least you’ll catch some of those. But otherwise, the end result is always interesting to see. Let me know if you give it a try and, if you do, how it works for you! 🙂

  5. Pingback: When the Words Refuse to Speak, Use Torture | The Sarcastic Muse

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